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Alain Vigneault on Lias Andersson: He wants to win, that’s a real positive

The Rangers coach commented after the team’s top prospect threw his silver medal to a fan in the crowd after Sweden’s loss in the WJC final.

Sweden forward Lias Andersson skates past Canada goalie

Sweden forward Lias Andersson skates past Canada goalie Carter Hart during the first period in the gold medal game of the world junior hockey championships, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. Photo Credit: AP / Jeffrey T. Barnes

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Rangers coach Alain Vigneault didn’t see first-round draft pick Lias Andersson throw his silver medal to a fan in the crowd after Sweden lost to Canada in the World Junior Championship final, but he had some opinions on it Saturday.

“Everything I’ve heard about Lias is he’s a real competitive young man,” he said. “Probably losing in the last minute, something was a little bit overwhelming at the time . . . I haven’t seen it, but I’ve been told. You want your players to compete, to be competitive, to not like to lose. All that part I like about it.”

After a pause, a writer asked: “Is there a gray area?”

Vigneault said: “Behavior, conduct? He’s a young man, but he wants to win, so that’s real positive.”

Andersson, who had won two silver medals in previous tournaments for younger players, said the fan “wanted it” more than he did.

Zuccarello out sick

Mats Zuccarello missed a game for the first time this season. “He’s sick, a little under the weather,” Vigneault said. Vinni Lettieri was in the lineup for his second NHL game.

The first line was the same as in Friday’s practice: Pavel Buchnevich-Mika Zibanejad-J.T. Miller. Jesper Fast moved to the second line with Michael Grabner and Kevin Hayes. Rick Nash and Jimmy Vesey flanked David Desharnais and Lettieri took Fast’s spot on the fourth line with Boo Nieves and Paul Carey.

Stepan faces Rangers

Derek Stepan, who played for the Rangers for seven seasons before being traded during the summer, said he thought returning to Madison Square Garden on Oct. 26 and seeing the scoreboard tribute would be more difficult than facing them Saturday night.

“I think that first time was going to be the hardest, ripping that band-aid off,” he told reporters. “I should be able to keep my legs in the first period, rather than swimming out there like I did.”

Stepan entered Saturday’s game with eight goals and 17 assists in 42 games. He had five points in his last five games.

New York Sports