3PM: Gerard Gallant spoke this morning about Lafreniere and said (NYR):
- “Because I’m making a lineup and consistency is the word that I mentioned before and yesterday a little bit and we want him to be better. He wants to be better, we want him to be better and just be more consistent in your game.”
11:47 AM: Alexis Lafreniere will be a healthy scratch tonight against Tampa Bay. (Brooks)
Sammy Blais will return to the lineup in place of Lafreniere. (Stephenson)
Gerard Gallant spoke yesterday about Lafreniere and said that he wants him to “be better.”
Lafreniere was scratched one game last season against Philly.
He had four goals and two assists over the next seven games and then two goals and seven assists in 20 playoff games.
3PM: Gallant also said (NYR):
- What have you seen from Kakko to move him up, “just changing the lines up, trying to get something going today. He’s been okay, we are putting lines together trying to make the best lines available and go tonight and see what happens.”
- On changing the lines, “Not satisfied. I think we’re a better team than what we’re been playing. We had a good little run going, but still, I think we got to get more consistency with our group and be better. Trying to find the right combinations and hopefully they work out, they work out for a couple of games and then we seem to fall back and not play as well.”
- What does Harpur bring that Hajek doesn’t, “A lot of size. I’m not comparing him to anybody else, but Harper brings a big body, physical guy when he has to be and I think the other players know that on the other team. He’s moving the puck well and doing a steady job. I’m not trying to say that Libor is not what he is, but Libor is a different player than him.”
- Do you want more size in that spot, “I wanted Libor to take that spot, I wanted Jonesy to take that spot and they came in and played some good games and then fell off again. that is what I’m trying to say. I wish those guys would have played better consistently and they would have had it. Harpur came in and played a game and he’s a little like Schneider last year. It’s only a small amount, 5-6 games, but he’s done his job and we’re happy.”
- Is Blais back in, “He’s playing tonight….Laffy is out. Sammy missed a few games and he’s a physical player and hard player and just go out there play hard and play well and get back in there and he’s ready to go.”
Adam Rotter: Sitting Lafreniere is probably a bit overdue. He just looks like someone who is around the play and the puck, but isn’t impacting it as much as he should. He just hasn’t seemed to take a consistent step forward in how he needs to play on this team, in this role and at this point in his career. I think that he works hard and tries hard, but probably trying too hard to make plays that aren’t there.
He’s not the only one struggling to produce or play with consistency, but he’s the easiest one to sit. It does seem like a strange coincidence that the last time the Rangers were in Tampa, Gerard Gallant sat, still without any reasonable explanation, Kaapo Kakko for Game 6 and now Lafreniere sits. Short of the Rangers playing an absolutely dominant, four-line game where everyone contributes, I’d expect Lafreniere back in on Sunday against the Panthers. The one thing that his struggles do help with, potentially, is probably a bridge-deal and lower cap hit for his next contract. I’m sure the Rangers would trade the struggles and lower cap hit for 2-3-4-5-6 steps of development and deal with the consequences later, but for now he’d be looking at a similar two-year contract like the ones Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko have signed.