Rangers make Lafreniere healthy scratch vs. Bolts
New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere will be a healthy scratch against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant confirmed the decision on Thursday morning. Sammy Blais will dress in Lafreniere's place.
Lafreniere, 21, had been demoted to the fourth line in practice earlier in the week. Gallant had put Lafreniere on the fourth line on more than one occasion last season.
The first overall selection of the 2020 NHL Draft, Lafreniere has struggled this season, scoring five goals and adding 12 assists in 36 games.
Gallant said on Wednesday that the demotion was because he wanted to the Saint-Eustache, Que. native "to be better."
“[Lafreniere] has gotten some chances to play with good people and he’s played well at times, but it’s inconsistent,” Gallant told reporters on Wednesday. “And again, there was a bunch of [Rangers players who played poorly in a 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday] night. So Laffy is getting maybe knocked down today in practice. Not saying he’s going to be there tomorrow. I don’t know where he’s going to be tomorrow. Sometimes, it’s a wake-up call for the kids.”
Through 36 games, the Rangers sit fifth in the Metropolitan Division on 43 points and currently occupy the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot, one point clear of the New York Islanders.