The New York Rangers will have to stand up to more adversity. This time as Artemi Panarin has to take a leave of absence from the team.
Merrian-Webster defines adversity as a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune. You could also just drop a picture of the New York Rangers logo next to the adjective as the Blueshirts are once again dealing with another major problem.
Artemi Panarin situation
On Monday morning, news that Rangers superstar Artemi Panarin would be taking a leave of absence spread like wildfire on all social media platforms. Reports that this was political retribution for some things Panarin said about Russian president Vladamir Putin or in support of his political opponent was basis for the allegations.
The aftermath and reason why this has come out of the woodwork is going to be understood in due time. For now, the concern is the 22 other players who have to put this story on the back burner and focus on Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Adversity Is No Surprise To This Team
The Rangers have been hit with plenty of different issues through the early part of the season.
Adversity struck this club early when it was revealed that center Mika Zibanejad was diagnosed with Covid-19 before camp. The Zibanejad news continued to be the topic with his lack of goal scoring that as of today shows just two goals on the season.
The teams goaltending was another cause of concern as both Igor Shestrkin and Alexandar Georgiev struggled to find a way to make a big save when it was needed most earlier in the season.
A lack of scoring throughout the team, especially from the big guns on the top two lines was another hill the team needed to climb (and will need to do so without Panarin now). An improved team defense lead by assistant coach Jacque Martin behind the bench along with the play of Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, and rookie K’Andre Miller helped the team get back to the winning ways over in recent games.
Filip Chytil was just playing some of the best hockey of his career when he went down with an injury some four weeks ago. He is still a few weeks away from getting back with his teammates.
Another blow to the club came following last week’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Kaapo Kakko played the best game of the season, scored a beautiful goal in the shootout as the Rangers won that contest. He was then placed on the NHL’s Covid Protocol list with his return unknown.
Rangers still recovering from Tony DeAngelo situation
The Tony DeAngelo situation was also a tough one for this team.
His physical altercation with Georgiev following an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins was what all Rangers fans had hoped would be the last straw of crazy season.
The following day DeAngelo was placed on waivers and eventually told to stay home until the club decides what to do with him. Currently, the team has been unable to trade him and the idea of him sitting at home making $4.8 million is tough for some to swallow.
The Rangers had appeared to take all of these distractions in and bonded together. The results were positive as they won their last two games, both on the road, in Philadelphia and Washington.
Pull together for Panarin
Now the team finds themselves without their leading scorer, one of their alternate captains, and one of the happiest players on and off the ice.
Linemate Ryan Strome talked about how this day went after the team’s practice as was reported by Mollie Walker of the New York Post,
“Can’t really say too much. I think he’s in good hands, the Rangers do an unbelievable job of having good support system for players. He’s such a good person, good teammate, he’s been a great role model for me. It definitely feels like it’s just par for the course a little bit, the way the world has been going last little while it seems like it’s one crazy event after another. I think we just take everything in stride.”
He also went on to say,
“We see him behind closed doors every day and the personality and the way he carries himself and his character and his attitude. He’s just an all-around unbelievable person. I think for us just give him this time, give him the space and whatever happens, whatever the timeline may be, we’ll welcome him back with more than open arms.”
The loss of Panarin for any length of time due to this “hit piece” as coined by Larry Brooks is too long. He is the player most leaned on in every situation. Opposing teams focus their entier game plans on preventing the Breadman from getting scoring chances and from setting up his teammates in the offensive zone.
Obviously, the team cannot replace Panarin on the ice. They can only hope once again to stand tall and hold down the fort until Panarin can return to the Blueshirts hopefully with all of this behind them.