Alexis Lafreniere doesn’t know what to expect.
The first overall pick of 2020 has seen many of the NHL playoffs in Canada. He’s heard of the intensity being much higher with the Stanley Cup up for grabs. The extra effort expected throughout the lineup and how you need to be ready for each individual shift.
“It’s a bit surreal for me to play,” Lafreniere said after Rangers practice Monday ahead of Game 1 of the first round against the Penguins. “I’ll just try to enjoy it as much as possible and bring my best game.”
Lafreniere needs to adjust to the postseason pace, and fast. It certainly helps that the 20-year-old has contributed offensively in the last seven games of the regular season. Lafreniere scored four goals and provided two assists in that span.
“Yeah, I’m feeling good with my game right now,” he said. “I’m going to try to keep it going for the playoffs, that’s what really counts. This season is a good thing, but you also have to play well in the playoffs. That’s the main focus.
“It sure is fun to end the season well, but the real season begins [Tuesday].”
The ‘Kid’ line – featuring Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko – have been reunited in their final two games of the regular season – and it looks like they will line up that way on Tuesday. After 28:13 of ice time together this season, the trio was beaten 2-1 according to the Natural Stat trick.
Rangers will need some offensive contributions from the bottom six. This season, much of the responsibility for scoring has fallen onto the front two lines. While the Kid Line formed under former head coach David Quinn last season and briefly replaced Kakko with Julien Gauthier this season, they never stick together for long.
The playoffs would be an ideal time for the three youngsters to work together effectively.
“It’s just about playing as a unit and being out there together and working for each other,” Lafreniere said of the keys to his line. “That’s really what we want to do. We will try to take our game to another level and be ready. We’re all trying to play a full game, and if all three of us play a two-way game, I think it really helps. We’re just going to try to do all the plays – forechecking, backchecking and playing the game.”
Ryan Lindgren attended practice on Monday, having started the day before for maintenance, the team said.
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Based on training over the past few days, it appears Ryan Reaves will be given the nod over Dryden Hunt to forge a fourth line with Kevin Rooney and Barclay Goodrow. Gallant said he has an idea who he’ll be going with but isn’t sure yet.
“We all know what Reaves brings to our team, but he brings more than what people see on the outside,” said the coach. “He’s an important guy. He’s a leader. He’s a character type. He makes people pay a price [and] keeps people away from our boys.”
https://nypost.com/2022/05/02/alexis-lafreniere-kid-lines-support-critical-to-rangers/ Alexis Lafreniere, Kid Line support vital for Rangers