Adam Fox misses playing with defense partner Ryan Lindgren
When Patrick Kane blasted a slap shot through a screen to beat Washington goalie Darcy Kuemper and give the Rangers a 3-1 lead on their way to a 5-3 victory Tuesday night at the Garden, Adam Fox earned his 50th assist of the season.
It’s a nice achievement, Fox said after practice Wednesday.
“I guess you always want to produce, and I think that's a signal of contributing,’’ he said. “I don't think it's everything. I think I've played good games where I don't get a point, and I've played bad games where I do. Obviously, you want to contribute, but it's a slippery slope to just measure yourself based solely on that, I think.’’
The greatness of Fox, the Jericho native, is that he can’t be judged solely on his point total.
It’s true that, entering Wednesday, Fox was sixth in scoring among NHL defensemen with 60 points (10 goals, 50 assists). He has recorded 223 points in 270 games in the league since coming out of Harvard in 2019. But since Day One of his NHL career, Fox has been a stalwart at the defensive end, as well. He not only leads the Rangers in average time on ice, and average power play time on ice, but he leads in shorthanded time on ice, as well.
The last eight games, though, Fox has been forced to play without his longtime defense partner and friend, Ryan Lindgren, by his side. Lindgren has been out with an upper-body injury since Feb. 25, and according to coach Gerard Gallant, he won’t play in Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, either.
“I miss him,’’ Fox said. “I think I’ve played what, like 99% of my games in the NHL with him. So, I’m obviously really comfortable with him on and off the ice… I mean, we're tight, and sit right next to each other in the locker room. And just that presence, it makes you feel more comfortable going into games.’’
In the eight games Lindgren has missed, Fox – partnered mostly with Niko Mikkola, who joined the team in February from St. Louis as part of Vladimir Tarasenko trade – has had no goals, six assists and a minus-2 rating. The Rangers still went 5-2-1.
Gallant said he understands Fox may be a little uncomfortable playing without Lindgren.
“Well, I think it's not easy,’’ Gallant said. “They're best friends, too. I mean, you see them all the time together and that. It's not going to be much longer (before Lindgren returns), but that's the way things happen. People get hurt, people get sick, different things happen. You’ve got to play with different people, and overall I think they (Fox and Mikkola) played pretty well together now.’’
Fox said the difficulty of having to adjust to a new defense partner with Lindgren out.
“There's a little tendencies here, and it's also – it's not like (Mikkola)'s been on the team and I've been watching him and know… where he might be,’’ Fox said. “It's brand new for both of us, in terms of how each other plays. (But) I think it's gotten better as we've gone along.’’