Rangers’ ‘special player’ receives NHL honor

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off the best game of his career during the New York Rangers’ 8-5 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, Alexis Lafreniere was recognized by the NHL on Monday for his recent outstanding play.

Lafreniere was named the NHL Third Star of the Week ending March 31. He’s in good company since Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid was named the No. 1 star. Vegas Golden Knights goalie Logan Thompson was named the League’s No. 2 star this past week.

The 22-year-old forward helped the Rangers to three more wins last week, extending their winning streak to five straight games. He led the NHL with five goals during the week and totaled seven points, one fewer than McDavid, in three games

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Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere named NHL Third Star of Week

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Lafreniere began his big week by scoring his 21st and 22nd goals of the season in a 6-5 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. It was his third two-goal game of the season.

After being held off the scoresheet in a 3-2 shootout win on the road against the Colorado Avalanche, Lafreniere exploded Saturday in the desert. Lafreniere recorded the first hat trick of his career and finished with an NHL career-high five points against the Coyotes.

“He’s a special player, he’s a gamebreaker. He makes plays,” Rangers goalie Jonathan Quick said about the 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick. “He works so well with ‘Bread’ (Artemi Panarin) and ‘Troch’ (Vincent Trocheck). He’s fun to watch.”

Lafreniere opened the scoring with a wicked snipe off the rush at 14:15 of the first period and proceeded to record a point on each of New York’s first three goals. He assisted on Ryan Lindgren’s goal early in the second period and scored his second of the game just 18 seconds after the Coyotes closed to 2-1 at 6:45.

A pretty feed on the rush set up a Zac Jones goal at 7:16 of the third period. And then Lafreniere scored into an empty net with 15 seconds to play to finish off the most productive game of his NHL career.

“Just always working hard and getting better every year,” Lafreniere explained. “Just playing my game and playing with confidence. So, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

He’s done exactly that.

With eight games remaining in the regular season, Lafreniere has already established career highs in goals (25), assists (27) and points (52). He’s tied for third on the Rangers in goals and is sixth in points.

Playing on a line with Panarin and Trocheck, Lafreniere already is 13 points better than his total of 39 last season.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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