Rangers need Adam Fox to regain pre-injury form

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
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The New York Rangers have certainly been hit by the injury bug this season, much more than in recent memory. Despite this, they still have managed to be one of the top teams in the NHL to date. Throughout the season, the Rangers have dealt with long-term injuries to Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, and Adam Fox.

It is always great to get a Norris-winning defenseman back into the line-up such as Fox. However, the 25-year-old defenseman has looked just a step behind since returning from injury. While he has still managed to log points, by Fox’s standards, it seems as though he is missing that extra level that we are all used to watching on a nightly basis.

Prior to his injury, Fox had 3 goals and 11 assists in just 9 games. In his 10th game of the season, he was injured early on and would be sidelined for nearly all of November. Since returning from injury, Fox has registered 13 assists in 17 games, has not found the back of the net, and has a plus/minus rating of only +1.

Also worth mentioning is that the majority of Fox’s points have come from the power play. Out of his 13 assists since returning from injury, 8 of them have come on the man-advantage. It is important to note that Fox has not been playing badly per se. Since Adam Fox’s return on November 29th, he ranks 13th in points scored by a defenseman in the NHL.

“I think since he’s come back from the injury, he’s trying to push,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “To me, there’s still production there. He’s close to a point-a-game, which is impressive. Coming off the injury, it takes a minute to get back up to speed, but I think he’s doing that.”

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Adam Fox needs to regain pre-injury form

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Before getting hurt against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 2, Fox was 2nd in points by defenseman in the NHL. Clearly, there has been a drop-off. Moving from 2nd place in his pre-injury games to 13th place in his post-injury games shows that Adam Fox is not playing at the level that he has been for so long.

Aside from the scoresheet, Fox’s skating has seemed off as well. Of course, sustaining a leg injury like his can make coming back to full form difficult, especially in the aspect of skating. Normally, Fox is one of the most dynamic defenseman when it comes to making plays in his own zone and on the offensive blue line.

Since returning on November 29, we simply have not seen it quite as much. It was highlighted by a lazy tripping penalty that Fox was assessed in Thursday night’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Like most stick-infractions, they are preventable by skating. It was just not a play that pre-injury Adam Fox was prone to making.

Again, this is not to say that Fox has been bad. However, it is evident both statistically and visually that he is missing that extra level that has him in the conversation for the Norris Trophy every season. Now the question is: What can be done to get Fox back there?

Having played 17 games since his injury, it does not make much sense to rest Fox and keep him from playing. Perhaps Peter Laviolette could limit his ice time. That being said, the Rangers are not in crisis mode, and are still winning at a solid pace. New York holds a record of 11-6-0 since Fox has returned to the lineup.

The Rangers would much rather prefer the Fox who had 11 points in 9 games, especially as the season rolls on and the postseason draws closer. It is very likely as he continues to play, he’ll eventually progresses back to his elite form.

Whatever the protocol may be, it is an important storyline to keep an eye on. While he has performed well since returning, he seems to be missing that one extra gear. A gear in which the Rangers desperately need if they want to make a run at a Stanley Cup come postseason action.

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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