Adam Fox drawing Brian Leetch comparisons from Mark Messier

The New York Rangers had just finished roaring back from a 1-0 deficit after the first period of Game 2 to take a 2-1 lead.

On the second goal, Adam Fox put on a display for the ages as he was by far the best player on the ice. He set up two glorious chances on one shift with Kaapo Kakko deflecting an incredible pass that froze two Lightning defenders, including Victor Hedman.

“I just stayed in front of the net,” Kakko said. “We got some chances before that and then ‘Foxy’ got the puck and made a nice pass, so easy job for me to just put it in the net.”

The ESPN broadcast went back to the studio for a quick analysis with former Rangers legend and captain of the 1994 Stanley Cup Championship team Mark Messier. What he said about what he just witnessed reverberated through every fan of the Blueshirts.

“Adam Fox put on a show. He was the best player on the ice,” Messier said. “He reminded me of Brian Leetch with the way he controlled the entire period.”

When the Rangers finally broke the 54 year curse, it was Leetch that won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff’s MVP. The first ever American-born player to do so with 34 points in 23 games. We could be watching something similar in 2022.

Fox and Leetch comparisons are nothing new

brian leetch
Dec 2, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Brian Leetch walks out during the jersey retirement for Vic Hadfieldat Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports Brian Leetch

Last season, as Fox was working his way to a Norris Trophy in just his second NHL season, comparison to Leetch were constant. Eventually, the former Rangers great decided to chime in.

“Usually you read the play a second ahead of the player because you can see everything from up above,” Leetch, who was acting as team advisor told Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic. “I would say, with Foxy, he’s making the play as I’m seeing it from up above. It’s not like I see the play a split-second before he makes it. He’s making the same play that I can see from 10 floors up. And he’s doing it while guys are all over him and the play’s going fast, and reading the play in those seconds and making the passes.”

When Fox was named the Norris recipient last season, it was Leetch presenting him with the honors.

“It was surreal to find out I was nominated for the Norris Trophy let alone win it,” Fox said. “Brian (Leetch) is an all-time Ranger, a Hall of Famer, his jersey is in the rafters, he’s won some Norris Trophies himself. So for him to present me the award is special.”

Adam Fox impressing with playoff performance

So how good has Adam Fox been in these playoffs? After his two assist performance on Friday night, he leads all defensemen in playoff scoring with 22 points (5G – 17A) in 16 games. That also ties him with Mika Zibanejad for the team lead, 7 points Edmonton’s Connor McDavid for overall scoring.

“He’s been doing it all year,” Jacob Trouba told NHL Network’s Billy Jaffe after Game 2. “He’s elevated his game and playing better. He’s fun to watch that’s for sure.”

Adam Fox extended his home point streak to nine playoff games with a two-assist effort. Only two defensemen in NHL history have recorded a longer such run in a playoff year: Ray Bourque (10 GP in 1991) and Paul Coffey (10 GP in 1985). Fox recorded his fourth-straight multi-point game, surpassing Brian Leetch (1992 &1995) for the longest multi-point streak by a defenseman in Rangers playoff history. Overall, it was Fox’s sixth multi-point game of the playoffs, tying Sergei Zubov (6 in 1994) for the second most in a single postseason by a Rangers defenseman, trailing only Brian Leetch (9 in 1994). With 22 points, Fox as well as Zibanejad rank third for the most points in a playoff year by a Rangers skater (Leetch – 34 in 1994, Messier – 30 in 1994).

New York Rangers postgame notes