Alexis Lafreniere reaching new heights on Rangers’ second line

nypost.com 95 days ago

The only member of the Kid Line left standing is the one who came into the season most needing to prove himself.

Alexis Lafreniere is continuing to do just that, the latest example being his pair of assists in the Rangers’ 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Playing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck has seemingly allowed the 22-year-old Lafreniere to find another gear in his game as he is on pace for career highs in scoring and overall points.

“He’s played great almost all year,” Panarin told reporters Wednesday night. “Maybe like a few games for us not that good. And then usually he plays great. Tough luck sometimes but that is where like, shot pretty good and goalie saves it. Sometimes that happens. He knows what to do.”

The Rangers have waited for Lafreniere’s breakout since drafting him with the top overall pick in 2020 and rarely have they needed him more than now, with Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko both on the shelf with injuries.

Alexis Lafreniere battles Jake Walman (left) for the puck during the Rangers' win over the Red Wings.
Alexis Lafreniere battles Jake Walman (left) for the puck during the Rangers’ win over the Red Wings.

Lafreniere, in turn, continued doing Wednesday what he has done all season and stepped up to the plate.

The game-winning goal on Wednesday followed Lafreniere getting out of the penalty box over a holding call.

He quickly atoned, getting off a shot from the slot that bounced off Ville Husso’s pad, allowing Jimmy Vesey to swat it past the goaltender, his stick only barely below the crossbar.

“Laffy came out of the box, picked up the puck with some speed and then him and Troch made a great play in the neutral zone,” Vesey said. “Laffy fell down for a second. I didn’t know how it was gonna develop, but they made a great play. Got a puck to the net.”

The second line, per Natural Stat Trick, has produced a 57.93 share of shots while on the ice for a 58.29 percent expected goals rate.

Against the Red Wings, it accounted for a 66.67 percent share of chances over the 13:43 it was on the ice.

“That line was excellent,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “The amount of attempts and looks that they had in the offensive zone, they were firing tonight.”

Asked about Patrick Kane joining the Red Wings following his stint on Broadway last season, Artemi Panarin jokingly told reporters, “We’re not friends anymore.”

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