At Monday’s pregame media briefing, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was asked to compare Alexis Lafrenière, the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, to the Devils’ Jack Hughes, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019.
“I don’t want to compare him to Hughes,’’ Gallant said. “Hughes has been outstanding this year for them. He’s a great player. He’s a real talented player, he’s done a great job.
“Alexis has grown as a player for me,’’ Gallant said. “He’s playing a complete game. Would we like to see great numbers? Of course. Hopefully that’s the next step.’’
Hughes entered Monday as the Devils’ leading goal-scorer with 11. He was their co-leading point-scorer with 25. Lafreniere entered Monday with three goals and seven assists. Kaapo Kakko, whom the Rangers took No. 2 overall in 2019 after the Devils took Hughes No. 1, had four goals and four assists.
Both C Vincent Trocheck and D Ryan Lindgren, who missed practice Sunday after taking heavy hits in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Edmonton, were in the lineup for the Rangers. D Adam Fox, who also did not practice Sunday because he was “under the weather,’’ according to the Rangers, also was in the lineup.
Forward Vitali Kravtsov, who Gallant had said Sunday is the team’s “extra forward,’’ sat out for the eighth straight game and was a healthy scratch for the sixth straight time. “I’m happy with my lineup,’’ Gallant said Sunday. “He’s going to get in. We like him. But it’s got to be the right time and right place.’’
D Libor Hajek was the Rangers’ other scratch. Zac Jones returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday’s game.
Hockey fights cancer
Monday was Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Madison Square Garden, and the Rangers wore special white and light purple jerseys and had special tape on their sticks for their warmup. The jerseys and sticks will be auctioned off online.