Rangers’ Adam Fox is getting tougher and it helps to have Ryan Reaves as a backup

GREENBURGH, NY – Adam Fox laughed Saturday when it was suggested to him that he’s gotten a little more eager than usual in the past week.

In the game against the Islanders on Wednesday, Fox looked red and went after Islander striker Jean-Gabriel Pageau as he did not like the high blow that Pageau put on his defensive partner, Ryan Lindgren. And on Friday, Fox got into it with his childhood friend Charlie McAvoy after McAvoy stumbled upon Kevin Rooney in the final minute of the Rangers’ 5-2 win over the Bruins in Boston.

“I do not know if that’s exactly my game, but sometimes you have to get in there,” he said. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen too many more times.”

“Everyone feels like they have each other’s backs, and whether you’re not the coolest guy or it might not be part of your game, [if] you see something you do not like, sometimes you have to step up and do something, ” he continued. “It may not always be to knock a guy out or something, but you just have to let other teams know that things like dirty punches or something like that are not just being swept under the rug.”

Much of that, Fox said, has to do with the presence of enforcer Ryan Reaves on the team. Although play is no longer a big part of the game – and Reaves only has one game this season – just makes everyone feel braver if you have one of the most feared fighters in the league in a row.

“To have him on the bench [allows] all to ‘breathe out’ a little more and feel a little more secure, ” Fox said. “Of course he also keeps other teams’ guys a little in check. And maybe they can not take that many liberties. [They’ve] must answer him if they do something he does not like. So yes, I think having a guy like him gives everyone the opportunity to play a little bigger, for sure. ”

Which was exactly the point of getting him, coach Gerard Gallant said.

“One hundred percent,” Gallant said. “I had him in Vegas and I know what he’s all about. You play a lot more comfortably with a guy like him in your lineup. And he’s played well for us, so it’s been perfect.”

Reaves has played 16 games (he missed four games with a lower body injury) and has an average ice time of 9:56 per game. match. He has had three assists [including a gorgeous one on Kevin Rooney’s second goal against the Islanders Wednesday] and 11 penalty minutes. He is clearly the team leader in hits with 75. Chris Kreider is number two on the team with 47.

“He has that one game, but I mean you also see the way he plays, he throws some big hits,” Fox said of Reaves. “He can change the momentum in a second, and yes, just his presence will definitely change the attitude of the team a little bit.”

Fox said he and McAvoy talked together after Friday’s game, and everything is patched up between them.

“It was not too bad,” he said. “We grew up together and know each other pretty well, but you know when the game starts, it’s not too many friends out there.”