The New York Rangers are making this a habit. They got their second straight 4-0 shutout, handily beating the Red Wings the same way they beat the Flyers on Wednesday. The game was never in doubt as the Rangers dominated the Wings from puck drop. They are also making Gerard Gallant look like a genius in how he deploys his players, especially Alexis Lafrenière.
The only negative was an apparent knee injury suffered by Kaapo Kakko in the first period. Ironically, he was replaced by Alexis Lafrenière who scored two goals including one for the highlight reel.
Gerard Gallant had made Lafrenière a healthy scratch against the Flyers, maintaining that the 20-year-old needed a rest and that he looked “tired.” Gallant laughed taking full credit for making the right call. “It was a good idea. He looked like he was fresh tonight.” But he did reinforce the need for a rest. “It was all about getting him refreshed….he come back tonight and had some good jump, he gets a goal and gets another beautiful goal. He was pretty excited.”
Gallant also made a point that he doesn’t consider the bottom six as a third and fourth line. He said that “I look at those two lines as two third lines” when asked about Lafrenière starting on the fourth line.
After the game Lafrenière spoke about the game. “I felt pretty good. I think I played with a little more confidence. That’s what I have to do more often. That’s what I’ll try to do every night.” He said the one game scratching didn’t bother him and acknowledged that he wasn’t playing well. His answer hinted that the concern was with his defensive play. “It’s what I want to do, just play with confidence, try to be responsible in our zone.”
ZIbanejad spoke about the progress he is seeing in Lafrenière’s game. “Everyone can see his skill on the offensive plays…but I think it’s the work away from the puck, the little things, the simple plays…that’s coming more consistent, really getting better every single day and that’s a good sign.”
When asked about Kakko, Gallant said he didn’t think it was serious and he stayed out as a precaution. You have to hope that is true, but he said the same thing the last time and Kakko missed 31 games.