Rangers finding ways to win despite slow start from Artemi Panarin

Artemi Panarin Rangers
Artemi Panarin
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have a cleared-conscious, healthy Artemi Panarin for the 2021-22 season, which is a welcome sight given the off-ice and injury issues that cropped up during the shortened campaign last year. 

Through six games, the 29-year-old is flirting with a point-per-game pace with a goal and three assists (four points) — but that’s a slow start by his standards.

The playmaking winger has had difficulties getting the puck to the net in early proceedings as he’s recorded only 10 shots on goal in six games for a concerning 34.5% of his attempts actually testing the goaltender. He’s seen 10 attempts blocked and another nine miss the net. It makes his average of 1.6 shots on goal per game so far this season is noticeably lower than his previous career average of 2.6 shots per game.

Of course, the Rangers’ season is only six games old — and there doesn’t seem to be any concern from first-year head coach Gerard Gallant.

“He’s bringing it,” Gallant said. “He’s making his plays… he’ll be fine.”

Winning certainly helps cover any minor blemishes, which downplays any concerns — if they exist — surrounding Panarin’s start.

The Rangers are coming off of a four-game road-trip sweep with wins over the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators, and most recently, the Ottawa Senators on Saturday that featured a furious third-period comeback sparked by a much-needed power-play goal that was set up by Panarin. The Blueshirts were 2-for-20 on the man advantage entering Saturday’s trip to Ottawa and are still just 3-for-24 on the season. So it’s not just Panarin that needs to step it up another level.

“We need a bit more from a lot of guys, so I’m not going to single out Panarin,” Gallant said. “We had a 4-0 road trip so we’re pretty happy. I’m not worried about individual players. I’m worried about the team and I really liked what we’ve done.”

A 4-1-1 start will help enhance those good feelings.

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