Rangers say Panarin questionable for game against Vegas; Shesterkin inching closer to return
Artemi Panarin did not skate with the team this morning. Tonight, the Rangers may be without their leading scorer when they face the high-scoring Vegas Golden Knights.
The Breadman leads the Rangers with 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists) and is day-to-day with a lower body injury. He played only seven minutes in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the league-worst Arizona Coyotes. He did not return to the ice after taking a lengthy shift in the opening minutes of the second period.
“You don’t want to lose anyone, but obviously him and his caliber, it’s tough to lose him,” New York center Mika Zibanejad said. “But at the same time, we got to do a job and try to — you can’t really fill that void.”
Panarin questionable; Chytil at LW?
Head coach Gerard Gallant spoke with the media after practice and did not rule out Panarin for tonight’s contest, still calling the injury “day-to-day.“
He did also note, that “if” Panarin misses the game, he will reinsert Filip Chytil into the lineup at left wing with Ryan Strome and Dryden Hunt.
Chytil, 22, is starting his fourth full season with the Rangers after debuting for 9 games at the end of 2017-18. For all his size, speed, and skill, the youngster still struggles to be consistent. That issue is only compounded when he doesn’t look engaged as he did in his last two games against Nashville and Colorado. He registered just one shot in each contest, winning just 3 of 8 draws.
“Sometimes you need lessons,” Gallant said after giving Chytil a healthy scratch. “I’m not saying it was a lesson tonight but [McKegg] been a great guy for us, so we’ll see where it goes.”
After the game against Arizona, Gallant was clear that whether Panarin plays or not, the team needs to step up.
“You have to dig down and find a way,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s obviously one of our best players, if not our best player.”
Igor Shesterkin inching back
The best news to come out of practice was Igor Shesterkin sharing a net with Keith Kinkaid. Previously, he had only been on the ice to stretch and take shots after practice had ended.
Alexandar Georgiev was the first goalie off, which is an indication on who will start.
Gallant is looking to use the Rangers schedule to his advantage and being cautious with Shesterkin’s rehab. After tonight the Rangers will have just two games in the matter of 10 days. Those two games are against the Canadiens (12/22) and Red Wings (12/27), so there really is no need to rush him back.
“We want him back as soon as he’s ready,” Gallant said. “He skated pretty good today. We’re definitely cautious with the Christmas Break coming up. We’re definitely cautious.”
Shesterkin had to be helped off the ice at 5:08 of the third period in a win over the San Jose Sharks earlier this month. The 25 year-old netminder was dealing with a lower-body injury after making a save and diving on the rebound during a scrum in front of the net. He’s been on IR since.
Shesterkin is 13-3-2 with a .937 SV% and a 2.05 GAA on the season.
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