Ever since that ping pong ball came up Rangers in 2020, fans have been impatiently waiting for Alexis Lafreniere to produce in the NHL like a first overall pick should. Three seasons of sub-20 goals/sub-40 points wasn't what we all expected, and his preseason was the most disappointing individually throughout the roster. Yet here we are 14 games into the year, the Blueshirts having won 11, and none more impactful than last night's come-from-behind win at MSG thanks almost entirely to the kid they call Laffy.
To kick off his incredible night, Lafreniere gave his squad the lead with his first tally:
Then this finish on the doorstep with just 11 seconds left to send it to OT:
LAFRENIERE TIES THE GAME WITH 11 SECONDS TO GO 🚨 pic.twitter.com/07XPx93AF1— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) November 13, 2023
Capped off with this absolute filthy backhand tuck for the lone shootout goal & victory:
Is there a better way to follow up your game-tying goal to force overtime than to score the shootout winner? 💪— NHL (@NHL) November 13, 2023
Have yourself a night, Alexis Lafreniere! pic.twitter.com/NV8uCmoH9P
Just an amazing night at The Garden for the 11-2-1 Rangers in general, who haven't skipped a beat despite missing Igor, Fox & Chytil. More importantly though #13 is on fire. It certainly helps that he's skating alongside Artemi Panarin who's been absolutely dominant to start the '23-'24 campaign. He's got points in all 14 contests (24 overall) and, for whatever it's worth, is arguably the league's MVP through the first month. I mean look at what The Breadman did last night:
Breadman was dishing. Completed 51 passes in the offensive zone and had the puck on his stick 2:17 in the attacking end - both most by a player in a game this season. https://t.co/om9RoTM4bZ— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) November 13, 2023
I have no clue what the league average is or even a good guess as to what it should be, but FIFTY-ONE COMPLETED passes in the offensive zone sounds as dominant as one human can play the game of hockey. So yeah, a lot of Laffy's 7G/4A start can be attributed to playing alongside greatness. Still, he's had those opportunities before and failed. Not this time. Laviolette has certainly given him a longer leash than he had with Gallant and so far it's paying huge dividends. Having him on the ice in a 6-on-5 situation is a huge display of confidence. Vaulting him up the shootout ladder to seal the win is the definition of putting talent in a position to succeed, and that disgusting backhand top cheese is proof Lafreniere has shed all doubt. He belongs in the top-six playing with some of the best in the league. He belongs among the go-to guys. He was the unquestioned top pick in 2020 for this very reason.
Alexis Lafreniere has finally arrived boys & girls…and he's here to stay.
VIVA LA BLUESHIRTS!!!!!