Street. POLL, MN – Early injuries to the Rangers group of attackers may have shown how dangerous the club is when it comes to depth under its current pressure, but it has also paved the way to a top-six place for Alexis Lavrenier. , which made the most out of it immediately.
Lafreniere scored the first multi-pass performance of his NHL career as the Rangers blasted into the Wild, 7-3, in the first Chippy Road Game of the season Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center. If this game serves as any kind of test for Lafreniere to stay in the top six, cancel the remaining serve calls.
With Vitaly Kravtsov returning to New York to nurse an upper body injury he suffered in the season-opening victory over the Lightning, and Sammy Blais being sidelined with an upper body injury, a souvenir from the pre-season finale, Lavrinier was first in line to replace Kravtsov replaced on the right flank of the second line next to Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck.
It’s a place where the 2020 first general selection hasn’t spent much time during his previous two seasons with Rangers, but he’s in the top six, with the organization hoping Lavrinier will become a staple one day.
“Sure,” Lavrinier said Thursday morning when asked if he sees this as an opportunity. “I think playing a little more, playing in the top six. Just try not to think about it when you play, but just try to play the best you can and try to help these guys as much as I can.”
Last season, Lafreniere played only one game with Panarin and Ryan Strome, who is no longer a goalkeeper after signing with the Ducks as a free agent this off season. It was mid-January in Los Angeles against the Kings and Lafreniere’s only line skating game was with Panarin in 2021-22.
There was a reason why Lavrinière, Panaren, and Ström were not committed. In 26:31 icy time, the trio saw three conceding goals, according to Natural Stat Trick. One might call it Lafreniere’s salvage game on that right-hand spot on Thursday night, because it fits like the last remaining piece of the puzzle.
“I mean, I still have to work hard and nothing is certain,” Lavrinier said after the win. “Obviously I want to play with them. I think they are really good players. I have to keep working on my game on the right side and try to improve.”
Turning to his far side seemed to be ineffective. Indeed, it was Lavrinier’s general composure that allowed him to score the second and third goals for Rangers in the first half. After receiving a puck from Panarin behind the Minnesota net, Lavrinier was patient before hitting Adam Fox’s shot into the far side of the net.
But perhaps it was Lavrinier’s association with Panarin that was the most prominent aspect of the victory. The late birthday boy, who turned 21 on Tuesday, sent a feed back from a corner to Panarin, who fired a puck past Wild Mark goalkeeper Andre Fleury to finish third of his four points of the night. Panarin pointed at Lafreniere and patted him on the head.
“There’s not much room on the left side, I’m still young,” Panarin said with a smile. “Maybe he should learn, right?”
The Rangers, 15-8, excelled in the opening 20 minutes and 36-35 overall, but they still controlled the pace of play from start to finish. Although the defense could have been tighter, effective special teams game and significant contributions from the six best Rangers players led to Wild booing from the ice in their own building after only the first period of their season opener.
The game had a little bit of everything for Rangers, who scored five top-nine goals at the same powerhouse, including Vincent Trochek’s first for the Blues in the third period. Chris Kreider scored two goals on his own and Capo Kaku and Philip Chettle scored their first goals this season as well. Even Ryan Reaves got into the action, dropping the gloves with Wild striker Marcus Foligno and landing blow after blow.
Ryan Lindgren described the Rangers’ performance in their first game as a recipe for success, but this game may have lifted the formula.