The Adam Fox injury is starting to impact the Rangers far more than any could have predicted. After dealing with a knee on knee hit from Washington’s Nick Jensen in the first round, Fox has been very clearly hobbled. In the Florida series, one where the Rangers should have been a better matchup, we’ve seen Fox’s inability to walk the line and pivot on defense exploited on a regular basis.

To be clear, the Adam Fox injury isn’t so bad that it’s turning him into a pumpkin. Fox at 50% is still better than 90% of the league’s defensemen and he’s still the best defenseman on the Rangers. It’s less about Fox being impactful and more about how impactful he can be.

The Adam Fox injury, simply put, appears to be preventing him from being the Adam Fox we know can take over a game. Walking the blue line, for example, has been one input into a powerplay that has struggled mightily against a very aggressive Florida team. He struggled against Carolina as well, but the upgrade from Frederik Andersen to Sergei Bobrovsky has emphasized the Rangers’ inability to move the puck with speed and efficiency. That begins and ends with Fox.

Given that Florida is very clearly the better 5v5 team, it’s the powerplay struggles that have driven many of the Rangers struggles. That, unfortunately, is where the Adam Fox injury is preventing the Rangers from maximizing their potential.

Inserting Zac Jones into the lineup or moving Erik Gustafsson to PP1 won’t move the needle, and putting Alexis Lafreniere in over Mika Zibanejad shakes things up too much for a one-day transition.

Those things take time. Something the Rangers don’t have.

So for now, the Rangers need to manage the Adam Fox injury at 5v5 and hope the rest of the team follows suit. We saw some good adjustments in Game 5, even in a loss, as the Rangers were better able to move the puck in the defensive zone. It came with more turnovers, but they weren’t panicking with the puck and simply chipping it out of the zone.

The optimist in me thinks that was a step in the right direction and something to build on. Until they lose the 4th game, they aren’t dead. Managing the Adam Fox injury and hopefully getting more from him and the blue line will be a bigger step in the right direction. Let’s see what happens tomorrow night.

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