Alexis Lafreniere’s breakout with Rangers continues in Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a long road for New York Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere to develop into the player he has been this season. Now in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 22-year-old forward is also making an impact, something he has struggled to do in previous postseason runs.

Over the past four seasons, Lafreniere has had ups and downs, and a hard time finding consistency in his game. This season, however, was a breakout. Lafreniere established NHL career highs with 28 goals, 29 assists and 57 points.

The breakout for Lafreniere has continued into the playoffs. After going 28 straight playoff games without a goal, he now has three in the past two games. None were bigger than the go-ahead goal in the third period of Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, which the Rangers eventually won 3-2 in overtime.

“It was a huge goal,” explained Peter Laviolette. “He didn’t have a lot of time to get that puck off in the slot, and it was a heck of a shot. That line has been good, they had a huge impact in the game tonight.”

That line, of course, features 120-point scorer Artemi Panarin and All-Star center Vincent Trocheck, along with Lafreniere, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. They clicked on Lafreniere’s goal in Game 3 that made it 2-1 and on Panarin’s OT game winner.

WATCH: Vincent Trocheck trolls Sebastian Aho during Rangers latest playoff win

Alexis Lafreniere has ‘unbelievable habits’ for Rangers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In Game 2, Lafreniere scored New York’s first two goals in the 4-3 double-overtime victory. He has nine points (three goals, six assists) in helping the Rangers burst out to a 7-0 run in the postseason, this after being held without a point in seven games last postseason against the New Jersey Devils.

“He’s got unbelievable habits for a young guy,” said Chris Kreider. “The way he shows up at the rink, the way he works on his craft. He just wants to get better, wants to have an impact, wants to win. He’s an unbelievable player, and we’re just incredibly happy to have him.”

Making an impact is certainly what Lafreniere has done this season and throughout the playoffs. Playing on one of the best lines in the NHL, Lafreniere has grown tremendously this season.

“(Lafreniere) has been pretty much set in stone with a couple of players, and that line has been extremely productive for us,” Laviolette explained. “He’s is a big part of that. I know he’s playing with some good players, but you can’t discount what he does as well, with his skill level and the way he’s grown. Even throughout the course of this year, I think he gets more confident and confident as the season grows and now the playoffs grow.”

This is a great sign for New York, as they are now just one win away from securing a spot in the Eastern Conference Final. For Lafreniere and many of his teammates, it will be a familiar position as they reached the conference final in 2022, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

As long as Lafreniere continues to build on his game and his confidence, he will continue to have success as these playoffs continue. His line along with Panarin and Trocheck seem unstoppable at the moment, providing huge goals time and time again. Not only has Lafreniere scored three goals in two games, but his linemates are each responsible for the overtime winners: Trocheck in Game 2, and Panarin in Game 3. And Panarin has four game-winning goals already this postseason.

“It was clutch,” Lafreniere stated simply. “(Panarin) has been amazing for us all year. He keeps it going in the playoffs. Obviously, a big player for us, he’s been amazing.”

The chemistry that Lafreniere has built with this line throughout the season has undoubtedly helped his game make huge strides. Now, they are getting it done when it matters most, making a massive impact in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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