The New York Rangers are 13-2-2 over their last 17 games. They currently are riding a seven-game point streak and have risen to third place in the tightly contested Metropolitan Division. A big reason for this fantastic stretch is Adam Fox, their number-one defenseman and one of the best blueliners in the NHL.
Fox is not the fastest or biggest player on the ice. But no one is smarter and more elusive than him, and his hockey IQ makes him an exceptional talent. He has improved in each season he has played, and now in his fourth year, we have seen him not only excel on the offensive side of the puck but also become an elite shutdown defender.
The Jericho, NY native has a plus-17 rating through 43 games while averaging 25:07 time on ice per contest. He is seventh amongst defensemen with nine goals, third in assists with 39, and fourth in points with 44. Fox has led the Rangers all season long and has been their best player.
Fox does it all for the Rangers, whether it is a defensive stop when the team needs it, an offensive sequence when a goal is needed, or eating up minutes against the opposition’s top players. If he continues on this trajectory, he will undoubtedly be a finalist for his second Norris Trophy in the last three seasons.
Fox Has Been Key in Rangers’ Last Two Victories
Fox’s impact can be summarized by his outstanding play over the last two games, wins against the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars. The Rangers were on the ropes in both games before he put the team on his back and started to take over. K’Andre Miller also has been crucial to the Rangers’ success, so an honorable mention to him, but Fox has been the driving force all season.
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After Miller made a magnificent play to score the Rangers’ first goal against the Wild, Fox stripped Mats Zuccarello of the puck and went end to end, beating Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot from the circle. But the Wild answered in the third, taking a 3-2 lead, leading to Fox again taking over, faking out Fleury and throwing the puck into the crease before Filip Chytil tapped it home.
The former Norris winner dominated the entire game, posting a 79.17 Corsi For percentage (CF%) at all strengths in the matchup, per Natural Stat Trick. He then followed that up by shutting down Jason Robertson and the Stars, posting a 71.43 CF% at all strengths while totaling 28:17 of ice time.
Fox assisted on Miller’s game-tying goal with 0.9 seconds remaining in regulation before scoring the overtime winner, waiting for Jake Oettinger to commit before going to the backhand and roofing the puck. Matched up against one of the best pure scorers in the NHL, he dominated defensively while also being the difference-maker offensively.
It was a perfect ending to a dominant week for Fox, who has cemented himself amongst the NHL’s elite defensemen. His value to the Rangers is immeasurable, and the wins against the Wild and Stars highlighted his importance to the Blueshirts’ success.
Fox’s Underlying Numbers Prove He is a Norris Frontrunner
As impressive as Fox’s statistics are, his analytics might be even better. At five-on-five, he has a 57.09 CF%, a goals for percentage (GF%) of 63.33, and an expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 57.87. At all strengths, he has a 61.89 CF%, 60.98 GF%, and a 61.09 xGF%.
Per The Athletic’s Player Cards, created by Dom Luszczyszyn and Shayna Goldman, Fox ranks in the 97th percentile for his defensive metrics, 100th percentile for points and assists, 96th percentile for goals, and 98th percentile in offensive metrics (from ‘NHL Player Cards: New York Rangers’, The Athletic, 1/9/23).
In other words, Fox is well on track to be considered for a second Norris Trophy. The race consists of Erik Karlsson, Cale Makar, Rasmus Dahlin, and a surprising candidate, Josh Morrisey. Fox’s all-around game may give him an edge in the race, due to his impact on a team in the heat of a playoff race, especially on the defensive side of the puck.
Offensively, Fox is on a point-per-game pace, coupled with his outstanding defensive metrics; his well-rounded play inserts him into one of the more intriguing Norris Trophy races in recent memory. According to Money Puck, he ranks third amongst defensemen who have played over 200 minutes in CF% at 62 percent.
As exciting and cerebral as Fox is, he is still just 24 years of age. He is growing and improving daily and will once again be one of the favorites for the Norris Trophy at the end of the 2022-23 season.
Brendan Azoff is a THW contributor and podcast host dedicated to covering the New York Rangers. His passion for hockey started when he first laced up the skates at three, growing into his love for writing and talking about the greatest sport in the world. His podcast, The Backcheck, breaks down the Rangers, Islanders, and NHL news and can be found on The Hockey Writers Podcast Network and Belly Up Sports. Brendan has been writing about the Rangers and the NHL for over two years, with his content also found on Puck Prose, Blue Line Station, and E2G Sports. If you want to connect with Brendan and stay up-to-date on his posts, follow him on Twitter. He is always available for content ideas and interviews, don’t be afraid to ask!