This hasn’t exactly been the easiest transition into the NHL for Rangers rookie Adam Fox. But at least the schedule is familiar.
The 21-year-old defenseman played three years at Harvard, where they would practice during the week and then play two games on the weekend. Strangely enough, the Rangers will complete a weeklong break when they host the Oilers at the Garden on Saturday afternoon, which is followed by another four days off.
“Obviously real excited to get games going and get more into the swing of things,” Fox said after Friday’s practice. “It does take me back to college a little bit, with the weekend games and the weeklong of practice.”
Already Fox has dealt with some curveballs, playing most of the preseason with fellow 21-year-old Libor Hajek, only to be switched to a pair with Brady Skjei just one game into the season. Fox’s NHL debut during the season opener on Oct. 3 was an inconsistent performance, but he got better in the second game.
“It’s not necessarily tougher because I have no [NHL] reference to back it up on,” Fox said. “It’s definitely different from the normal expectation, or the normal approach. But once it gets going, it’ll feel pretty normal.”
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is set to get his second start, though his first was the season opener, when he allowed four goals on 47 shots. The 37-year-old netminder likely will play less than he’s used to this season, but this is already a long break without a game.
“I don’t worry about Hank in that regard,” coach David Quinn said. “He comes to practice with a game-like mentality every day. So if there’s a guy that’s going to stay sharp for this type of stretch, it would be Hank.”
Lundqvist said he would prefer to play every other day, but he was trying not to fret about the schedule.
“Every time you come off a break, you just have to work a little extra to be in that zone when your focus is great,” he said. “When you play every second day, it’s a lot easier to find that.”
Quinn did a lot of five-on-five drills during the week, which included a lot of work with the defensemen breaking out of their own end. In addition to the Fox-Skjei duo, he also has pairs of Marc Staal-Tony DeAngelo and Hajek-Jacob Trouba .
“We have, in essence, three new defenseman,” Quinn said, referring to Fox, Hajek and Trouba. “We were going to go through this regardless of the schedule.”
It looks like Greg McKegg will join the fourth line with Lias Andersson and Brendan Smith, while Michael Haley is the lone healthy scratch.