LOS ANGELES — Libor Hajek earned his stretch of video games with the Rangers, and it seems Zac Jones is in for a similar kind of run.
That is just honest to each defensemen, who’ve been tagging one another out and in of the Rangers’ lineup by means of the primary quarter of the season. Head coach Gerard Gallant has inspired the wholesome competitors between Hajek and Jones, which is able to in all probability be helpful for the younger blue liners.
“I prefer it,” Jones informed The Post. “I like competitors. I’ve had the final two years, going into camp final yr, coming into camp this yr, I knew it was going to be a contest. Nice that we nonetheless have it happening.”
Jones was anticipated to skate in his second straight sport Tuesday night time towards the Kings, slotting in subsequent to Braden Schneider on the underside pair. After Jones sat out of the 4 video games main up to the Rangers’ 2-1 win at San Jose on Saturday night time, he ought to be granted a stretch of enjoying time comparable to that Hajek acquired to get right into a groove.
If he performed Tuesday, it will have been Jones’ thirteenth sport of the season, a brand new profession excessive after he appeared in 10 video games in 2020-21 and 12 in 2021-22.
“I’m making an attempt not to give attention to it an excessive amount of,” the University of Massachusetts product stated of fluctuating out and in of the lineup. “I’m simply making an attempt to go on the market each time I can, each time I’m within the lineup, go on the market and show that I deserve to keep within the lineup. Try not to take into consideration how onerous it’s. Just go on the market on a regular basis making an attempt to work onerous, making an attempt to preserve my conditioning up, making an attempt to preserve my energy up and each time I’m within the lineup, I’m within the lineup.”
Jones scored his first NHL objective on Oct. 29 at Dallas and entered Tuesday two factors shy of matching the profession excessive 4 factors he posted in his first season with the Rangers. As an offensive-minded defenseman, Jones is in a position to present robust main passes to assist the Rangers escape on the frenzy.
When requested what points of the Rangers’ play he has picked up on since getting to watch from the press field, Jones pointed to simplifying his sport.
“Just being less complicated with the puck,” he stated. “There’s a number of occasions the place I’m on the market simply making an attempt to make too many high-risk performs, however I can simply make the straightforward play up the wall or one thing like that. That’s simply the most important factor I’ve seen is simply being less complicated with the puck.”