Rangers Recall: Mika May and Old Spice beat Hurricanes

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers commenced their Eastern Conference Second Round series with an exciting 4-3 win in Game 1 over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Mika Zibanejad led the way with a three-point effort (two goals, one assist) to boost his postseason point totals to 10 (three goals, seven assists) through five games. He’s now tied for second in playoff scoring with Leon Draisaitl, and two points behind Connor McDavid (12), both with the Edmonton Oilers.

“As an offensive guy, you want to get involved,” Zibanejad said. “When you score and you’re able to contribute to a win it’s a good feeling. It’s one game and we’ve got to keep going.”

The 30-year-old’s impressive performance to start this series has sparked the term “Mika May,” and it’s definitely something the team hopes continues well into June.

“Mika does everything for us,” explained linemate Chris Kreider. “Face-offs, responsible in his own zone, detailed, contributes offensively. So we’re really lucky to have four centers like that.”

Related: Rangers win Game 1 thriller over Hurricanes

Rangers Recall: Mika May and Old Spice

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Mika Zibanejad

After a subpar regular season, at least by Mika’s previous standards, when he scored 72 points in 81 games, he’s found another level in the playoffs.

The veteran two-way center has been excellent defensively all season, and already has a shorthanded assist in the playoffs. What stands out as the postseason progresses is how decisive Zibanejad’s been with the puck in the offensive zone. Even more obvious has been the confidence he’s displayed in his shot. Many times during the regular season, it appeared he was choking the life out of his stick before every blast often sending shots high and wide.

“When players like Mika stand up and show his skills it’s pretty important for the team,” Artemi Panarin said.

Artemi Panarin and an Old Spice shot

The Rangers leading scorer during the regular season with 120 points (49 goals, 71 assists) may not be leading the team in the playoffs, but he has three goals, all of which are game-winners. The 32-year-old superstar is coming off an awful playoff run last year after the New Jersey Devils limited him to just two assists in a seven-game first-round ouster.

Coming into this season, Panarin appeared hellbent on shooting the puck more, leading the team in that category with 303. That’s a staggering 99 more shots than the season before. In the playoffs, he also leads the Rangers with 15 shots through their first five games.

That shoot first mentality came through in the third period with the Rangers leading 3-2. Panarin picked up the puck in the neutral zone for an odd-man rush with Vincent Trocheck and saw the Hurricanes defender playing against the pass. Looking off his center, he opted to fire a shot that squeaked through Frederik Andersen.

It was a huge goal, especially after Carolina pulled their goalie later to get one back.

“I read too much comments on Tik Tok,” Panarin laughed about shooting more. “In my mind, before when I go in I was going backhand and try to pass to [Trocheck]. Last second, I decided to shoot it and it went in.

“Old Spice shot, right here,” a cheerful Panarin pointed under his own arm to show how the puck got by Andersen.

Panarin has just four points in the playoffs (three goals, one assist), but he’s coming through in big spots which is huge for the Rangers.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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