Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad powering offense, can they join Rangers 100 point club?
NY Rangers forwards Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad find themselves atop the NHL’s Scoring Leaders Board as of Tuesday morning.
While we’ve just begun the second week of the new season, it is still an impressive feat considering the high expectations for the team.
Panarin leads the NHL with 10 points (2G-8A) and Mika Zibanejad (4G-4A) comes in second with 8. Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon is third with 7 points (2G-5A) having played in one less game.
For Panarin, half his points, including both goals are at even strength. He has 5 assists on the power play. As for Zibanejad, he’s been a special teams dream with all his goals coming on the power play (3) or shorthanded (1). Only 2 of his points, both assists, are at even strength.
Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad powering NYR
In last night’s 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks, each player notched four points. Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists for the second time this season and Mika Zibanejad had two goals and two assists.
Half the Rangers goals came on the power play, with Zibanejad leading the way with 2 goals and an assist on the man advantage. Of Panarin’s 4 points, all 3 of his assists were registered up a man.
“So far so good,” Panarin said about the team’s power play. “It’s been a good start to the season and we’re going to try and get better.”
Panarin’s ability to create space and distribute the puck is incredible, when you combine that with Mika Zibanejad’s elite one-time from the left circle on the power play it’s nearly unstoppable.
Although Vincent Trocheck is new, he’s adapting quickly to a unit that’s been together for essentially several seasons.
“You look at the top power plays around the league and you see they’ve been together for a long time,” Zibanejad explained. “In the playoffs, tight games 5 on 5, you’ve got to take advantage of your power plays.”
Can Panarin and Zibanejad join the 100 point club?
Zibanejad, 29, scored 81 points in 81 games last season for the Rangers and then added another 24 points in 20 playoff games. He’s without a doubt the team’s best two-way player and his fast start has him on pace to blow by his career high 41 goals scored in the COVID shortened season of 2019.
Panarin, 30, started his Broadway career in impressive fashion scoring a career-high 32 goals and 95 points in just 69 games. Unfortunately, the season was cut short due the pandemic as Panarin was on a pace to score 112 points. The following season was a 56 game slate making it impossible for him to hit triple digits. Last season, he set career highs for assists (74) and points (96) in 75 games.
Neither of these offensively gifted players have ever scored 100 points in a season but both appear well on their way. Panarin is averaging 2.5 points per game which would be good for 205 points. If Zibanejad were to maintain his scoring pace of 2 points per game, he’d finish with 164 points.
Since we haven’t seen scoring like that circa Wayne Gretzky in the 1980’s, it’s extremely unlikely they’ll maintain that pace or play a full 82 games schedule. However, they just need to maintain a 1.21 points per game average in order to break the century mark.
Should either or both of them do it, they’ll be the first Blueshirts to since Jaromir Jagr notched a franchise high 123 in 2005-2006. Only 6 players in team history have ever been able to hit 100 points, 4 of them were able to do it in the same season.
Can Panarin and Zibanejad be the third pair? We will eventually find out.
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