Panarin, Shesterkin, Second Line & More

Welcome to New York Rangers Weekly The Rangers are currently on a West Coast tour and lost 5-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night. The Blueshirts’ remaining games on the road trip are against the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks before traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. The Blueshirts won their second game after a COVID pause against the Florida Panthers. They defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in an at-home match and beat the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, their latest defeat.

Some players have returned from COVID protocols like Ryan Lindgren and Alexandar Georgiaev. This has helped some. Artemi Pantarin entered protocol January 2, leaving Gerard Gallant with no choice but to shuffle the line combinations without their star player. Igor Shesterkin entered health and safety protocols before Thursday night’s game. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines for the Rangers over the last week.

Panarin, Shesterkin in COVID Protocol

Panarin was taken into safety and health protocols before the second home-and-home match against the Lightning. Panarin, the Rangers’ leader in total points, has the chance to return at some point to the team on the West-bound road trip. In 31 games played between 2021-22, the forward has scored 10 goals and provided 26 assists.

UPDATE: Igor Shesterkin is now a member of the Covid protocol. Keith Kinkaid was recalled from the taxi squad.

Shesterkin entered COVID protocol before the Rangers’ loss to the Golden Knights, which left backup Georgiev as the starting goaltender last night. Keith Kinkaid was designated to the roster as the backup goaltender for Rangers’ starter goaltender. The Blueshirts starting goaltender has been vital to the team’s success this season as he has a record of 15-4-2, a 2.09 goals-against average (GAA), and a save percentage (SV%) of .936 this year. Georgiev was Shesterkin’s backup goaltender in December due to a lower-body injury.

New Second Line Plays Well in Panarin’s Absence

Gallant chose a line combination that has been successful for the Rangers, without Panarin. Ryan Strome was still on the second line, with Alexis Lafreniere (Oilers) and Barclay Goodrow (Rangers). The results were great for home games against the Lightning & Oilers. Strome scored a goal last Sunday with Goodrow’s assist.

Related: Rangers’ Strome, Goodrow & Lafreniere Stepping up With Panarin Out

The next night brought even more benefits. Second line significantly contributedHere’s the score sheet of the Blueshirts. The combination was responsible for three of the team’s four goals in a 4-1 win against the Oilers. Strome had two goals and two assists. Lafreniere, Goodrow, and Goodrow each had one goal and one assist.

Lafreniere mentioned what he is doing differently since being paired with Strome and Goodrow, “I’m moving my feet a little more and making more plays and holding on more to the puck. That’s my game, and I’ll keep learning from the guys I’m playing with. They have good advice for me, so I’ll keep learning and keep getting better as a player” (from ‘Artemi Panarin out again but Rangers return grows nearer, New York Post, 1/6/22).

Ryan Strome, New York Rangers
Ryan Strome, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers

Strome noted the familiarity he has with his current linemates, “I played with Goody a little bit this year and Laffy last year so there’s a little familiarity. Honestly, they’re very easy to play with, Goodrow just does all the right things all over the ice. He’s so responsible, he’s such an underrated player. He sees the game from a different perspective and can read the play. He’s got a great stick, he breaks up a lot of plays and he’s got underrated skill. You can see Laffy’s playmaking and ability tonight. He made so many great plays tonight that could’ve resulted in some more points for himself” (from ‘Rangers’ second line clicking on short notice during Artemi Panarin’s absence, New York Post, 1/4/22).

Gallant and Reaves are Homecoming in Las Vegas

Gallant was the previous head coach for the Rangers. In 2017-18, he helped the organization reach its first Stanley Cup Final. Ryan Reaves was a player with the Golden Knights prior to his current stint with Blueshirts. He and the head coach were both honored with a video tribute during last night’s game.

In response to the video, Reaves said, “I was a little flustered for the rest of the game. When you’re attached to a city like I was here and, you know, had some good times here. The memories start to flood in. I’m not an emotional guy, I wasn’t expecting that at all, but it got to me a little bit. It messed with my game a little bit” (from ‘Igor Shesterkin-less Rangers ripped by Golden Knights,’ New York Post, 1/7/22).

Ryan Reaves New York Rangers
Ryan Reaves, New York Rangers (Photo: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images).

Gallant Reaves and the Rangers did not win the game as they had hoped. They lost the match by just one goal. The Pacific Division’s leading Golden Knights. The Blueshirts were outplayed in the second and three-quarter periods at T-Mobile Arena. Jonathan Marchessault (left) and Reilly Smith (right) had multi-point games in victory for the Golden Knights. On Saturday, the Rangers will be looking to overcome the loss when they take on the Ducks at Honda Center.

COVID Protocol: Ducks have Several Players

As of Friday afternoon, seven Ducks players were in safety and health protocols. Ryan Getzlaf (Nicholas Deslauriers), Sam Carrick (Hampus Lindholm), John Gibson, John Gibson, Vinni Letieri, and Sam Carrick all have COVID protocols. The game against Detroit Red Wings that was scheduled for Thursday night was postponed to Sunday because of the increased protocol-related players who have been in place over the last five day. As of Friday, the Rangers-Ducks match is set for Saturday at 10 p.m. EST. The Ducks are currently second in the Pacific with 43 Points, four points less than the Golden Knights.

The Rangers will face tough road trips against the Ducks Kings Sharks and Kings. Both teams are closely related in the division. In the highly competitive Pacific Division, the Kings and Sharks have 37 points each. The Blueshirts need quick recovery as they are close to the top in the Metropolitan Division. The team is tied at 48 points with the Washington Capitals. They are closely followed by the Carolina Hurricanes (surging Pittsburgh Penguins) with 47 points each.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe