SAN JOSE, Calif. — Alexis Lafreniere will get another chance to make it [on the] right while getting his second straight look on the line with Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin.
“I have to adjust my game a little bit playing right wing, it’s a little bit different but I’ll try to adjust as quick as I can and try to be ready for every game,” said Lafreniere, who is attempting to make the shift to his off-wing. “It’s really fun [playing on that line], obviously Bread is one of the best players in the league so just to be able to be on the ice with him is good.”
Lafreniere set up Strome for a glorious opportunity at the right porch off a nifty cross-ice feed just 35 seconds into Monday’s match in Los Angeles, but Strome was stoned by netminder Cal Petersen. The unit didn’t generate much after that. Panarin was way off in his first game following a four-game absence while under COVID protocol and Strome had his second consecutive ineffective one following a dud in Anaheim on Saturday.
Indeed, as recorded by NaturalStatTrick, the line had a 33 percent Corsi rating in 12:51 of five-on-five play in the 3-1 defeat to the Kings, on for two goals against (none for) and a negative five (1/6) in high-danger chances. Odds are that type of performance will not be repeated Thursday against the Sharks.
When training camp opened, the plan was for Lafreniere to flip to the right and skate with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. But Lafreniere was not quite comfortable on his off-wing. The experiment ended as quickly as it began. But with Panarin and Kreider on the top rungs of the left-wing depth chart, playing right wing represents Lafreniere’s most logical path to a top-six role.
“I played left wing my whole life so obviously I was more comfortable there, but I’m ready to adjust and change to right wing and try to play the best hockey I can,” Lafreniere said. “It’s obviously a little bit different coming back into your own end, and it might take a couple of games, but I’m comfortable with it.”
“We have a couple of guys playing on their off-sides so I’ll learn from them. It’s nothing crazy.”
Igor Shesterkin, who entered COVID protocol on Jan. 6, has not been cleared by Wednesday and thus did not practice. That makes it likely Alex Georgiev will get a fifth straight start for the first time in his NHL career and 11th in the club’s last 16 games. Keith Kinkaid remains on the roster with Tyler Wall added to the taxi squad. … Adam Fox did not skate Wednesday while getting “maintenance,” per the Rangers, but he is expected to play Thursday. … Ryan Reaves, Julien Gauthier and Barclay Goodrow remained under COVID protocol. … The Rangers added Justin Richards to the taxi squad.
The Blueshirts have gone three straight games without a power-play goal (0-for-9) for just the second time this season and the first time since a three-game stretch Nov. 14-18 (0-for-6).
The Rangers, 1-2 on this trip that began with a defeat in Vegas, will conclude the tour with a match on Saturday in Philadelphia. They will then be off until next Wednesday’s Garden matchup against the Maple Leafs.