New York Rangers Alexis Lafrenière: ‘I want to prove that I can play in the playoffs’

Alexis Lafrenière
New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals during the second period at Madison Square Garden.
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

A former first overall pick two years ago, Alexis Lafrenière feels that he has something to prove in his first appearance in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

“I want to prove that I can play in the playoffs,” Lafrenière said. “I think it’s good for me to have the opportunity for me to play and I’ll try to make the most of it.” 

The New York Rangers’ first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins presents Lafrenière a chance to not only show he can perform in the postseason, but he can do so with one of the best players in hockey on the other side of the ice. The Quebec native is quite familiar with Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby, having watched him growing up and later playing for the same QMJHL team that Crosby once played for.

The young Rangers forward called the opportunity to play against Crosby “pretty cool.” Lafrenière told reporters on Monday that he had met Crosby during his jersey retirement ceremony in Rimouski in 2019, but that he didn’t know him personally. 

Alexis Lafreniere
New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) celebrates a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals with center Barclay Goodrow (21) at Madison Square Garden.Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

“I grew up watching him, but the focus is really about us,” Lafrenière said. “Not about them too much. They’re a really good team and it should be a lot of fun.”

Alexis Lafrenière entered Tuesday’s series opener finishing the regular season on a high note. In his final seven games, he recorded four goals and seven points. In 79 games this season he had 19 goals and 12 assists for 31 points with the Blue Shirts.

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He saw improvements in goals, assists and points from his previous season with the New York Rangers and head coach Gerard Gallant was giving him the chance to work the front of the net on the team’s second power-play unit going into Game 1. 

“I feel good about my game right now,” Lafrenière said. “I’ll try to keep it going for playoffs. That’s what really matters. The regular season is good but you gotta play good in playoffs too. That’s the main focus. It’s sure fun to finish the season on a good note, but the real season starts (in Game 1).”