Adam Fox is the only defenseman to win the Norris Trophy before playing in an official NHL playoff game. And when the number 23 made his debut on Tuesday night in the Rangers’ 105-minute, 58-second adventure of a Game 1 opener, a 4-3 triple-overtime loss to the Penguins, he was playing at Norris Trophy level. .
‘Fox being Fox’ after a few months of ‘He’s not like Adam’ is some of the best opener news for Rangers, who in Game 2 on Thursday will face what’s also close to the first must. -win head coach Gerard Gallant’s tenure situation until they face elimination.
The Blueshirts need their best players to be their best players from start to finish. Igor Shesterkin, who made 79 saves, more than held his end of the bargain in Game 1. So did K’Andre Miller, who led the club with 44:38 of ice time, and Fox, who played 10 seconds less. only that.
“I would definitely say that was my first playoff game,” said Fox, who played all three of those (dis)qualifying games under the tightly sealed bubble in 2020. “That atmosphere and intensity was completely different. Obviously, I wish I had a different outcome, but it was fun to be a part of it.
Fox’s underlying numbers were misleading after he was beaten a bit in his 11:34 match against Sidney Crosby. The idea is to contain the No. 87 in his own end and not allow his line, which includes Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, to gain momentum through the neutral zone and force the defense back. Rangers gave way too much good ice in Game 1.
“I think being more physical is something we can do,” Fox said. “They have a pretty smart group of players on that line, so I think you have to be mentally smart as well and be in the right positions.
“Being physical, moving your feet and trying to stay ahead of them is important. We want to slow them down a bit and not give them so much time and space.
Fox was a choreographer in Game 1, moving the puck, directing and generating the offense. He opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period of the summit on the club’s only men’s advantage of the marathon. His neat flat on an Artemi Panarin stint nearly set Ryan Strome up for the winner with 4:15 remaining in the first OT.
Additionally, Fox also played with muscle. He was credited with four hits, including one on which he tackled Brock McGinn seven minutes into the game.
He seemed to be playing on instinct and his strengths after a few months of maybe thinking too much about it or getting too in on himself. The 24-year-old just didn’t seem like himself after suffering an upper-body injury that sidelined him for three games leading up to the All-Star break. But he was sure Tuesday.
“I don’t think I was nervous,” said Fox, who had seven for 10 hits in addition to his total hits and a game-high six blocked shots. “Obviously you get a bit of a butterfly before a big game just in general, but I think it was more exciting, just being home and knowing you have the crowd behind you.
“After those first few shifts, you settle in and treat it like another game. Top 10 [minutes] are usually the most intense, people are just trying to pull a punch or keep it simple. The longer the game lasts, the more you try to keep it simpler.
“With a game that lasts that long your legs get tired, you try not to make mistakes and keep it a bit simpler but overall I don’t want to change too much,” he said. . “I just try to play the same way and increase that intensity a bit.”
Fox’s right wing and journeyman Ryan Lindgren is struggling with a lower body issue he suffered during the third period of the April 29 regular season finale against Washington. Lindgren missed the first 17:26 of the third period, played the first two overtimes, but did not leave the room for the third OT.
Thus, Fox got 7:46 of five against five with Patrik Nemeth, 5:16 with Miller, 2:46 with Jacob Trouba and 1:16 with Braden Schneider. Fox has played 83.16% of his five out of five minutes this season and 72.08% in his three years in the league with Lindgren. Gallant said Lindgren was “a bit banged up” but is expected to play in Game 2.
If not, or if No. 55 – who may not have been as bloodied this year as last year, but has been physically punished as well as punished – is simply too compromised to be an asset, then the coach will have to choose between Nemeth and either Justin Braun or Libor Hajek to become Fox’s sidekick. Gallant will not break the Miller-Trouba tandem.
Losing Lindgren wouldn’t be ideal. But Fox definitely becomes Fox again.
New York Post