As the Rangers continue to experiment with different combinations among their top six, the latest formula has Alexis Lafreniere on the top line.
The 19-year-old rookie was back in his natural position at left wing during practice Thursday, a day before the Rangers’ upcoming four-game trip to Pittsburgh and Buffalo. But this time he skated next to Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider to make up the Rangers’ first line, while Pavel Buchnevich was bumped down to the second line with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome.
After starting on the third line in the season opener, Lafreniere then joined Panarin and Strome on the second line two nights later in a 5-0 win over the Islanders. He stayed on the second line for the 4-3 loss to the Devils on Tuesday night after head coach David Quinn rolled with the exact same lineup.
The rearrangement puts Kreider on the right wing, his off-side, where he hasn’t spent much time over his 10 seasons with the Rangers. He has taken some reps on the right of Panarin and Filip Chytil in the past, as well as with Panarin and Zibanejad, but it is not his usual starting spot.