The Wraparound: Don’t forget Adam Fox’s role in Rangers’ run

The Wraparound: Don't forget Adam Fox's role in Rangers' run
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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• The Avalanche shut out Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Oilers to take a 2-0 series lead.

• Was it another argument that rest isn’t worth the rust? Or are we overlooking the rise of the Rangers’ “Kid Line” and other factors after they beat the Lightning in Game 1? Either way, we get to see how the defending repeat champions respond in Game 2 on Friday.

• Nice news for a player who’s been through a lot: defenseman Jake Gardiner was cleared for next season.

• For the first time in 19 seasons as an NHL head coach, Flames bench boss Darryl Sutter won a Jack Adams Award.

After impressively winning Game 1 against the Lightning (not to mention resilient comebacks versus the Penguins and Hurricanes), people are understandably lavishing the Rangers with praise.

  • Most obviously, this playoff run is emphasizing the all-world capabilities of Igor Shesterkin. You may have heard Rangers fans (dangerously?) chanting “Igor’s better” in Game 1.
  • “The Kid Line” is giving the Rangers the sort of boost people have been waiting for.
  • We’re getting a taste of how scary Mika Zibanejad can be on a hot streak.
  • Some will basically trip over their own feet to make it about toughness, grit, or rust.

When praising the Rangers during what feels like an earlier-than-expected run to an Eastern Conference Final, don’t forget about Adam Fox. Considering his start to the series, Fox set the bar high for himself as the Rangers try to expand their series lead over the Lightning in Game 2 Friday night (8 p.m. ET).

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

On one hand, it’s strange to say “don’t forget Adam Fox.”

After all, the 24-year-old is the reigning Norris Trophy winner. While I’d argue it’s a contract that will quickly look like a sneaky-bargain (see: Leon Draisaitl’s $8.5M quickly looking like a steal), it’s not like Fox is underpaid. Starting next season, he will carry a $9.5M cap hit.

Yet … it still feels a bit like people are taking some time to come around on just how great Fox has been. Maybe it’s as simple as this: few defensemen make such an immediate impact upon jumping to the NHL.

Perhaps it’s because Fox puts the Rangers in positions to succeed in a less dramatic way than Cale Makar. That’s no knock on Fox. Just about every defensemen looks positively pedestrian compared to Makar.

(Heck, there aren’t a lot of skaters who burn opponents in open space quite like Makar.)

[Conn Smythe watch: McDavid, Shesterkin lead after two rounds]

So far this postseason, Fox ranks first among NHL playoff defensemen with an impressive 20 points in 15 games. Across the Rangers team, only Mika Zibanejad (21 points) scored more points than Fox.

Now, sure, he has received more reps, being that the Rangers went through two Game 7s. But the point is that, a lot like Makar, Fox is converting his regular-season mastery to tremendous playoff results.

Truly, the Rangers lean on Fox as much as you would a grizzled veteran No. 1 defenseman. He’s logging 26:45 TOI, one of the heaviest workloads of any defensemen. (Victor Hedman‘s at a modest-by-his-standards 24:55 per game.)

As a skilled and shrewd blueliner, Fox’s brilliance isn’t just about nuances. The Game 7 goal Fox scored was the sort that really deflated the Hurricanes:

Fox noticed by Rangers legend Brian Leetch

If nothing else, Brian Leetch is noticing. Leetch praised Fox’s work in a recent discussion with The Athletic’s Arthur Staple (sub. required).

“When I got to the playoffs I wanted to be the best I could and (make people) compare me to the other great players in the league,” Leetch said. “Adam’s approach is, he’s a very competitive guy. If they’re saying Makar’s better or someone else is better, there’s no question his attitude will be, ‘Oh yeah? I’ll show you who’s better.’ He may not show it, and I didn’t always show it, but he’s got the drive to be the best. You don’t play the way he does, especially this time of year, without having that.”

Fox really might just be the best defenseman in the NHL right now. If nothing else, he’s holding up his end of the debate alongside the likes of Makar, Hedman, and others during the Rangers’ deep playoff run.

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Eastern Conference Final


Game 1 – Rangers 6, Lightning 2
Game 2 – June 3: Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 3 – June 5: Rangers at Lightning, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 4 – June 7: Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 5 – June 9: Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 6 – June 11: Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 7 – June 14: Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. ET, (ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS)

* If necessary

2022 NHL playoff schedule: Western Conference Final

Game 1 : Avalanche 8, Oilers 6
Game 2: Avalanche 4, Oilers 0
Game 3 – June 4: Avalanche at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, SN, CBC, TVAS)
Game 4 – June 6: Avalanche at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, SN, CBC, TVAS)
*Game 5 – June 8: Oilers at Avalanche, TBD
*Game 6 – June 10: Avalanche at Oilers, TBD
*Game 7 – June 12: Oilers at Avalanche, TBD

* If necessary

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    Sharks goalie James Reimer declines to wear Pride jersey

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    San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer didn’t take part in pregame warmups, saying the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

    Reimer said in a statement Saturday that he made the decision based on his Christian beliefs, adding that he “always strived to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey.

    “In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in life,” Reimer said.

    Reimer is the second NHL player this season to refuse to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, with Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov declining to in January. Reimer was not slated to start in Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, which is Pride night.

    Additionally, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night, saying the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusiveness.

    “As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”

    The You Can Play Project, which works to promote inclusiveness in sports, said the organization was disappointed in Reimer’s actions.

    “Religion and respect are not in conflict with each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason to not support our community,” the organization said. “Wearing pride jerseys, like any celebration jersey worn, is not about the personal feelings of an athlete; rather the communication from the team that a community is welcome in the arena and the sport.”

    Panarin, Shesterkin lead Rangers to 6-0 rout of Penguins

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    NEW YORK — Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Artemi Panarin scored twice and Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves as the New York Rangers routed Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night for their second win over the Penguins in three days.

    Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the surging Rangers, who have won nine of their last 11 home games and are 12-4-0 in their past 16 at Madison Square Garden.

    Shesterkin won his fifth straight and posted his second shutout this season. He nimbly denied Pittsburgh forward Mikael Granland with a sprawling save five minutes into the third period to preserve the shutout, the 10th of his career. His other one this season was a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia on Nov. 1.

    “When you put in hard and honest work, miracles happen,” Shesterkin said through a translator. ”We played wonderfully today – scored many, many goals. Honestly, I hope the fans loved it. We’re playing for them.”

    The Penguins lost their third straight and trail the Rangers by 12 points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh, still in wild-card position, is trying to reach the playoffs for the 17th straight time.

    “Tonight was a humbling experience for all of us,” coach Mike Sullivan said. ”At this time of year, you have to have a short memory. We still have control of our destiny.”

    Patrick Kane and defenseman K’Andre Miller also had two assists apiece as New York improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine home games against Pittsburgh. The Rangers are five points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils, who lost at Florida on Saturday.

    “This was a big game for our goalie and our team,” Panarin said. “If you work at playing the right way, you have opportunities for goals.”

    Since Dec. 5, when they turned around their season with a 6-4 comeback win at home over St. Louis, the Rangers are 29-9-5.

    As he did on Thursday when the Rangers beat the Penguins 4-2, Zibanejad opened the scoring. He got his team-leading 36th goal at 5:10 of the first, beating Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Trouba and Miller assisted.

    Panarin made it 2-0 at 19:49 on the power play, whipping the puck past Jarry from the left circle off a pass from Adam Fox.

    Tarasenko increased the lead at 3:54 of the second with his fifth goal since joining the Rangers in a trade with St. Louis on Feb. 9. Tarasenko has points in 10 of his first 18 games with the Rangers.

    Kreider made it 4-0 at 6:43 with his 31st goal and third in two games against the Penguins. Kane and Vincent Trocheck assisted on Kreider’s 260th career goal, which moved the Rangers forward within two of Vic Hadfield for fifth place on the franchise list.

    New York won Thursday when Kreider scored the go-ahead goal in the third and added an empty-netter.

    After Casey DeSmith replaced Jarry in net following Kreider’s goal, Trouba beat the replacement with a sharp-angle shot at 8:39 for his eighth to increase the margin to 5-0. Trouba has points in six of his last eight games.

    Panarin scored again at 16:38 of the second – his 22nd goal of the season – to make it 6-0, with assists to Kane and Filip Chytil.

    “We’re building chemistry, building every day and every game,” Kane said.

    Panarin has points in eight of his last 10 games and leads the Rangers with 77 points overall, while Kane has seven points in his last six games.

    “It’s nice to see that many great players on your team,” added Panarin, whose first two NHL seasons were played alongside Kane with the Chicago Blackhawks. “We’re happy tonight.”

    Zibanejad assisted on goals by Tarasenko and Trouba and has 25 points – including 14 goals – over his last 20 games.

    “It was just one of those nights when the puck goes in for us,” Zibanejad said. “And obviously Igor gives us a boost making all those saves.”

    NOTES: The Penguins were missing defenseman Jeff Petry after he was hit with an unpenalized elbow from Rangers forward Tyler Motte on Thursday. … Pittsburgh also scratched defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Dalton Heinen and played defenseman Mark Friedman for the first time since Feb. 11. … The Rangers were without injured defenseman Ryan Lindgren for the 10th straight game.


    Penguins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

    Rangers: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.

    Coyotes sign Shane Doan’s son to entry-level contract

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    TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Doan is following his father’s footsteps into professional hockey.

    The Arizona Coyotes signed the 21-year-old forward to a three-year entry-level contract, beginning with the 2023-24 NHL season. He will report to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL and play his first game against the Calgary Wranglers.

    Doan’s father, Shane, played 21 seasons with the franchise, many of those as captain, and followed it from Winnipeg to the desert in 1996. Shane Doan now serves as Arizona’s chief hockey development officer.

    The Coyotes drafted Josh Doan in the second round of the 2021, but he opted to play for the hometown Arizona State Sun Devils.

    Josh Doan set school records for goals (12) and assists (25) as a freshman last season. He had 16 goals and 22 assists in 39 games with Arizona State this season.

    The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder also played two seasons for the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

    Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman has shoulder surgery

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    CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman had surgery on his right shoulder.

    The team said the operation was performed in Los Angeles. Team physician Michael Terry said the 23-year-old Guttman is expected “to be out of hockey activities for approximately four months.”

    Guttman had been a pleasant surprise for rebuilding Chicago. He made his NHL debut last month and finished the season with four goals and two assists in 14 games.

    Guttman was selected by Tampa Bay in the 2017 draft. He agreed to a two-year contract with Chicago in August 2022 that had a $950,000 salary cap hit.