May 19, 2024

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

Rangers outfielder Alexis Lafreniere is now living up to high early expectations

Rangers outfielder Alexis Lafreniere is now living up to high early expectations

Mark Cannizzaro

NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. — There was a time when Alexis Lafreniere had nowhere to hide.

Now he is ignored and even belittled.

The expectations that came with Lafreniere being selected No. 1 overall in 2020, the Rangers’ first No. 1 overall pick since the inception of the World Draft in 1970, were heavy.

Alexis Lafreniere celebrates with teammates after scoring a third-period goal in the Rangers' 3-2 overtime win over the Hurricanes.
Alexis Lafreniere celebrates with teammates after scoring a third-period goal in the Rangers’ 3-2 overtime win over the Hurricanes. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Conn

That made Lafreniere a lightning rod for Rangers fans who expected greatness to match where he was selected in the draft.

The 91 points Lafreniere achieved in his first three seasons were not enough in the eyes of those fans who expected and wanted more.

But this narrative is changing before our eyes.

This change was evident during the regular season, as Lafrenière set career highs in goals (28), assists (29), and points (57).

And it was even more evident in these playoffs, as Lafreniere had a huge goal and an assist in the Rangers’ 3-2 overtime win over the Hurricanes in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night at PNC Arena.

This comes two days after Lafreniere scored twice in the Rangers’ 4-3 double-overtime win over the Hurricanes in Game 2 on Tuesday at the Garden. This makes him three goals in the last two matches.

Lafreniere is impacting the Rangers’ biggest games right now.

He scored a goal at 6:25 of the third period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead on Thursday.

Alexis Lafreniere beat Frederik Andersen for the second of his two goals in the Rangers' Game 2 win over the Hurricanes.
Alexis Lafreniere beat Frederik Andersen for the second of his two goals in the Rangers’ Game 2 win over the Hurricanes. Getty Images

After the Canes sent the game into overtime with a six-for-five goal at 18:24 of the third, Lafreniere assisted on Artemi Panarin’s game-winning goal at 1:43 of overtime for the win and a 3-0 series lead. For the Rangers, who can shut out the Canes on Saturday night at PNC with a win.

See also  Leaders embarrassed in worst loss of Ron Rivera's tenure, lose to Giants with third-string QB - NBC4 Washington

Lafreniere had three goals and six assists for nine points in seven postseason games.

Even those numbers, along with his best regular-season production, don’t jump off the page when you take into account the two teammates he plays with — Panarin and Vincent Trocheck.

Panarin led the Rangers with 49 goals and 120 points in the regular season, and Trocheck, who does it all, is arguably the team’s most important two-way player.

Don’t sleep on Lafreniere, though.

“There’s always a lot of pressure on these young guys to come in and make an impact right away, but the way he worked and the way he believed in himself and worked… [up] “His confidence was amazing,” Rangers winger Mika Zibanejad said. “With him and Tru, bread [Panarin] It was great chemistry. They were playing big hockey for us.

“Lavi is a nail. We are glad to have him.”

The same applies to Rangers coach Peter Laviolette, under whom Lafrenière excelled and had the best season of his career.

“It was a huge goal,” Laviolette said of Lafreniere’s third-period goal. “He didn’t have a lot of time to get that ball in the slot, and it was a great shot. That line was good, and obviously had a big impact on tonight’s game.”

Who would have thought two years ago that Lafreniere would have such a major impact on the Rangers’ Stanley Cup run?

Not based on his production in his first three seasons.

“To speak specifically about Love, I can’t speak to the past,” Laviolette said. “I can only speak for the last six months. It’s been pretty much set in stone with a couple of guys. This streak has been very productive for us and he’s part of that.

See also  3 women's basketball teams withdrew from the Vegas tournament

“He’s playing with some good players. He’s playing with Artemi, who has proven to be one of the best players in the league, and Troche is the backbone in the midfield and does a lot of things.

“But you can’t take away what Love is also doing with his skill level and the way he’s developed over the course of this year. He’s become more confident and confident as the season has grown and the playoffs have grown.

Veteran Rangers winger Chris Kreider, who scored the team’s first goal, a majestic shorthanded tally in the second period, was sitting next to Lafrenière at the team’s postgame media interviews and I asked him what he saw with Lafrenière raising his level of play in these playoffs.

“Ulf Samuelsson [a former Ranger player and assistant coach] I told our team a while ago that you don’t raise your game in the playoffs, you lean on your habits, and [Lafreniere] “He has unbelievable habits for a young man,” Kreider said. “The way he shows up at the rink, the way he works at his craft. … He wants to get better, he wants to make an impact, he wants to win.

“An unbelievable player and we are very happy to have him.”




Load more…









https://nypost.com/2024/05/10/sports/rangers-alexis-lafreniere-now-living-up-to-high-early-expectations/?utm_source=url_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site%20buttons&utm_campaign=site%20buttons

Copy the share URL