Rangers Roundup: Gallant wants Alexis Lafrenière on LW, Trouba talks Copp, and more
The New York Rangers were back at work on Thursday. It was likely a very needed practice session, especially for all the new guys that went through trial by fire in a 7-4 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday.
Head coach Gerard Gallant kept his defensive pairings the same as Braden Schneider rotated in from time to time with Patrik Nemeth and Justin Braun.
As for the forward group, there was a lot of movement per multiple reports. Here’s the biggest changes we might see Friday night against the Penguins.
- First line could see Frank Vatrano at RW
- Second line could have Andrew Copp at RW
- Third line could have Alexis Lafrenière at LW with Chytil and Goodrow
- A new fourth line centered by Tyler Motte with Hunt and Brodzinski
Ryan Reaves looks like he will be a healthy scratch along with Greg McKegg and Julien Gauthier. Also, Artemi Panarin took a full practice with no issues after being shaken up in the third period of their last game.
Gerard Gallant on Alexis Lafrenière move
Alexis Lafrenière was benched for the majority of the third period against the Devils. For the game, he finished with just 10:26 which was his lowest total since January 24. That was a 3-2 win over the Kings where Lafrenière played just 9:59 in that contest.
According to the coach, the reasons for the limited ice time was due to a combination of the score, plus wanting to give the new Rangers more reps with different looks.
“It was the score and to be fair to Laffy, I know he like playing left wing better than right wing,” Gallant admitted via the team’s YouTube channel. “We’re trying some new people. It’s not picking on Laffy, it’s not that at all.”
The Rangers bench boss really wanted to emphasize that Lafrenière dropping from the first line to the third line was about getting him back to his preferred position. However, he did add that once Kaapo Kakko and Kevin Rooney return there will be more changes.
“I just wanted to put him back at left wing.” Gallant explained. “He’s a 20 year-old kid that’s played good hockey and has gotten some points for us. But with the new guys coming in you want to change the make-up a little bit and we’ll see where it goes.”
When the coach was pressed if it was something Lafrenière did defensively, he quickly turned that around to the entire team.
“Not Laffy, the team,” he said regarding defensive issues. “We went into Tampa Bay and played one of our better games…then we have a good first period (in New Jersey) and have a stinker the rest of the way. I think it was more of a mental thing than anything else.”
Jacob Trouba on Andrew Copp
Andrew Copp made an impressive debut for the New York Rangers picking up two assists.
“I try and excel in every way I can,” Copp told MSG’s John Giannone. “Versatility playing center, wing, face-offs, special teams both sides, and play strong defensively. Just try and do a little of everything and make the players better around me.”
That versatility was on full display for the Rangers second goal against the Devils by Adam Fox. Copp was moved to the top line and took the draw in place of Mika Zibanejad. A clean faceoff win back to the line’s usual center set up the tally.
Close friend and teammate on several different occasions, Jacob Trouba spoke glowingly of Copp today.
“He keeps getting better…even just watching him in a game yesterday, he was a better player than he was three years ago” Trouba said on the Rangers YouTube channel.
“He’s been in that role his whole career of never being complacent and settling for what he has,” Trouba continued. “As a friend, that’s good to see and the kind of guys you want in your locker room. He has that attitude and work ethic about him. He’s someone you want on your team.”
Trouba, Copp, and Vatrano all played together back in the US National Development Program and find themselves together again after 10 years.
Trouba even housed Vatrano when he first got here from Florida but found him a better place to moved Copp in. Trouba joked his parents got sent to a hotel to accommodate his old friend.
NHL Trade Deadline Winners and Losers
Who were the biggest winners, and who failed to get done what they needed to do? Read more here.