Huge opportunity for Alexis Lafreniere, other storylines to follow on Friday

Alexis Lafreniere #13 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Alexis Lafreniere #13 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Alexis Lafreniere (13)
Alexis Lafreniere #13 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Alexis Lafreniere will have a big role to play for the New York Rangers tonight.

For the second time this week we’ve only got two games on the schedule in the National Hockey League tonight, with Alexis Lafreniere and the New York Rangers taking on the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden in a rematch of Wednesday night where the B’s won 3-2 in Overtime, while the St. Louis Blues and the Arizona Coyotes will faceoff for the first of a three-game set.

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Tonight’s meeting between the Blues and the Coyotes should set the tone for what is to come over the next few days, and the Coyotes will be looking for their fourth straight win against the Blues. With these teams having already met four times, they should be pretty familiar with each other and St. Louis should play with an extra edge tonight given that they just can’t seem to find a way to figure out the Coyotes.

Revenge will also be on the minds of the New York Rangers given that they lost to the Bruins in Overtime on Wednesday at MSG, with B’s forward Brad Marchand scoring the game-winner. However, the Blueshirts actually played pretty well and could have won the game were it not for the heroics of Tuukka Rask between the pipes. But, without star forward Artemi Panarin who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, it will be up to the likes of Lafreniere and Mika Zibanejad to step up tonight and fill that void.

It should be a very interesting night of hockey in the National Hockey League given that the stakes are getting higher in each and every single game the deeper we get into the 2020-21 season, and we’ve put together some storylines to keep an eye on across the two games on the docket tonight. Let’s delve right in…

Storylines to follow on Friday including Alexis Lafreniere’s big chance

St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Can the Blues finally beat the Yotes?

Things aren’t exactly going great for the St. Louis Blues who have lost three in a row, all against the Arizona Coyotes, and they now have to play the same opponent three more times over the next few days. While the Blues are currently second in the West Division, they will start slipping down the standings if they can’t figure out a way to beat the Yotes soon, and it must start tonight.

Arizona will have home ice advantage for the next three games – although what does that matter in a post COVID-19 world – and they will be brimming with confidence given that they are currently riding a three-game win streak and playing arguably some of their best hockey of the year.

Something has to give for the Blues who are out to prove that they are still a legit contender despite losing some of their shine since their Stanley Cup win in 2018-19, and they are going to need their big guns in the ilk of David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly and Torey Krug to step up and deliver a big win tonight. One big key for the St. Louis Blues in tonight’s game will be dramatically improved play on special teams given that they currently rank 29th on the penalty kill (69.6) and 28th on the power play (11.4), so they will need to be a whole lot better in that area if they are to stop the slide tonight.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

OEL back in the building

It won’t help the St. Louis Blues’ cause that they are getting a rather big piece back in Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has been out with a lower-body injury for the past 10 games, not playing since Jan. 16. Ekman-Larsson is very much the heartbeat of this team and it will be a huge boost for the Coyotes to have him back on the ice, and his ability to move the puck, quarterback the power play and help with the transition game will only give Arizona yet another weapon to pit up against the Blues as they go for a fourth straight win tonight.