Alexis Lafrenière Continues Superb Postseason Performance in ECF

The 22 -year-old Quebecois superstar has 6 goals and 6 assists in 13 postseason games this year, which is 4th on the team these playoffs
New York Rangers v Florida Panthers - Game Three
New York Rangers v Florida Panthers - Game Three / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages
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Alexis Lafrenière continued his stellar postseason play for the New York Rangers during Sunday's 5-4 overtime win in Game 3 of the Blueshirts' Eastern Conference finals duel with the Florida Panthers. The 22-year-old Saint-Eustache, Quebec native had 2 goals to get him to a total of 6 goals and 6 assists heading into Game 4 tonight in Sunrise, Fla. And his goal-scoring prowess isn't just in the postseason either- Lafrenière's 2023/24 regular season saw him skate in all 82 games, something he hadn't done before in his young career as well as eclipse the 20+ goals mark, another thing he'd never accomplished through his 4 years in the NHL. But one look at his junior stats (173 games in three seasons with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Rimouski Oceanic, with 114 goals and 183 assists for 297 points, you'd be very surprised to find he hasn't already done that multiple times.

Despite the Rangers at one point holding a 2-goal lead heading to the 3rd period in Sunday's game, they didn't seem fazed by Florida's comeback, no doubt helped in part to the fact the Rangers were outshot by a total of 37-23. They did at least block plenty of those opposing shots, holding a 37-14 advantage in that statistic. But it's safe to say Lafreniere did most of the heavy lifting in Game 3, and it was his best postseason game since their double overtime win against Carolina in Game 2 back in the opening round, a game where Lafreniere also had 2 goals.

If there was just one bad thing to come out of a hard-fought victory in this game, it was that Lafreniere could be doing too much of the work. Besides him, only Barclay Goodrow, with 3 goals in this series so far, remains the only high-profile Ranger to contribute to New York's total goal count against Florida. Some of that is due to the Panthers' good D, but when guys like Chris Kreider, who hasn't found the net since his natural Carolina hat trick, and the one-timer machine Mika Zibanejad don't join in, things may not end well. Remember, this series is currently at 2-1 for New York, and they might want to play with just a bit more ferocity if they can put a shocking stranglehold in the form of a 3-1 series lead on last year's Cup Finals runner-up.

Rangers bench boss Peter Laviolette has said throughout the postseason, and let's face it, the whole regular season, that the team is a whole effort in itself. New York isn't just relying on one or two guys to keep them afloat (cough, Edmonton, cough), no matter what part of the season they're currently in. To make sure Lafreniere doesn't tire himself out for the rest of this series, which could still go the full 7 games, he and the rest of the Rangers need to shake off the scoring slump a bit. It's not bad, but when even Artemi Panarin or Adam Fox is kept off the scoresheet for so long, something definitely has to give. And speaking of the Breadman himself, he's linemates with Lafreniere! You'd think Laffy's stellar play would give some inspiration to Panarin, especially after Laffy had a dirty goal of his own like Panarin back in Game 3 in Carolina.

Just a bit more tweaking on the Rangers' top lines should see them comfortably through to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 2013/14, a full decade in the making. We'll see if they can at least jump out to a 3-1 series lead before maybe finishing the job back at MSG on Saturday evening in Game 6 against their 2nd consecutive tough opponent.