It’s easy to forget that Adam Fox is one of the young guys, too.
The Rangers’ No. 1 defenseman leads NHL defensemen in scoring with 43 points on five goals and a league-high 38 assists, including the one he got Friday on Chris Kreider’s power-play goal that opened the scoring in the Rangers’ 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden.
The victory, combined with Boston’s 6-4 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo, reduced the Bruins’ lead over the Rangers for the final playoff spot in the East Division to six points.
The Rangers have eight games remaining and Boston has 10.
"Obviously, you do a lot of scoreboard-watching,’’ Rangers coach David Quinn said. "We can’t control what’s going on away from us. We know the task in front of us. We just have to continue to approach each night in the right way. And when we do that, we have a chance to win. We did it enough tonight. I think we need to do it more and moving forward here, but we did enough tonight to win.’’
The win came on the heels of a devastating 3-2 loss to the Flyers on Thursday.
The Rangers took the lead in Friday’s game on Kreider’s 20th goal of the season at 6:02 of the first period.
Oskar Lindblom tied the score just 45 seconds later, but Pavel Buchnevich’s 20th goal restored the Rangers’ lead at 7:56.
After a scoreless second period in which the Rangers killed a key five-on-three power play late, the Blueshirts got an insurance goal from Alexis Lafreniere at 9:24 of the third and another from Filip Chytil that made it 4-1 at 13:40. It was Chytil’s first goal in 12 games.
Alexandar Georgiev was solid in goal, making 26 saves to earn his third straight victory.
Fox, the pride of Jericho, Long Island, ended up with just the one assist in his 22:53 of ice time, but he played his usual sturdy game.
It’s hard to fathom that he is only 23 and in his second professional season. He’s one of four 23-year-olds who are playing every night for the Rangers and one of nine players in the lineup Thursday and Friday who were 23 or under.
With five of the six defensemen in the lineup aged 23 or younger, Fox and his partner (and roommate) Ryan Lindgren, also 23, were asked to double-shift in the two games.
The two took their regular shifts with each other and split up to also take shifts with 20-year-old Zac Jones and 23-year-old Libor Hajek. Lindgren served as the veteran partner for Jones, playing his first two NHL games, while Fox played his extra shifts with Hajek.
It was just another thing the Rangers have asked Fox to do this season, along with serving as one of the team’s spokesmen after games.
After the devastating loss Thursday, Fox was the first player to address the media on the postgame Zoom call. He spoke about the fact that the Rangers took too many penalties that night and said the Blueshirts as a group need to "be a little smarter.’’
The Rangers were smarter on Friday and certainly played better defensively than they did Thursday and in Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to the Islanders.
"I thought we defended better,’’ Kreider said. "We got a lot of chances from defending better and taking away time to space, breaking up plays, supporting each other. I thought we were a lot more crisp throughout.’’