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Rangers’ Artemi Panarin has ‘problem’ amid rare drought

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The last time Artemi Panarin went eight straight without a score was his first season with the Rangers, in 2019-20. Rangers went 3-4-1 in that streak, which happened just before the coronavirus pandemic suspended the season.

Such a point drought hasn’t happened many times in Panarin’s eight NHL seasons, a testament to his knack for consistently racking up points. Even during that scoreless streak nearly three years ago, Panarin had 10 assists and had just one game without a point.

Going into Rangers’ game against the Sharks on Saturday night, however, Panarin hadn’t scored since Oct. 30 in Arizona. Additionally, he had gone the previous three contests without a single five-on-five shot. Additionally, four of his six assists during his scoreless stint came on the power play.

Rangers, who had lost five of their previous eight games, were in a five-on-five rut, but Panarin is the kind of player who could get things going for them.

Artemi Panarin is struggling with a rare drought.
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“I probably need to be closer to the net, that’s a problem,” Panarin told the Post after the Rangers skated Saturday morning at the SAP Center. “Taking shots from the blue line, but with my shots it’s probably not a good chance to score. And that’s why I don’t shoot. If I get close, which I try to do sometimes. I don’t know, maybe it’s always my fault. I tried to play like [how] I usually play, I don’t know if I have to change something. Maybe a few steps closer to the net. I want to shoot more and score more.

“But I feel like right now that I don’t have [many] chances because I don’t know why, but probably [because] I need to be closer to the net and the chances [will come].”

The 31-year-old Russian is clearly still adjusting to having a new center next to him in Vincent Trocheck, who has taken over the position that Ryan Strome has held essentially since Panarin became a Ranger. There have also not been many opportunities to establish continuity as a line as Rangers have had several right wings plugged in throughout the season amid injuries and personnel decisions.

In 215:01 of five-on-five ice time together heading into Saturday, Panarin and Trocheck had been on the ice for eight Rangers goals and 12 goals against, according to Natural Stat Trick.

“I think we’re always trying to find our game, especially at five-on-five,” Panarin said of his chemistry with Trocheck. “We don’t score enough five-on-five. That’s what worries me. But then again, if you’re not concerned about hockey, you probably won’t find a way. We try to find ways, that’s why I was watching [film] and all that. Try to understand what we can do better. I hope it’s just in time for us. We will find it one day.

Panarin, making no allusion to what the Rangers should or shouldn’t be doing at the trade deadline, said his chemistry with Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane was immediate when they were teammates in Chicago. No practice was even necessary for these two to find a connection. It’s been different for every player Panarin has played with in his career, he said.

Before the start of this season, Panarin admitted he had lost some confidence in Rangers’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but he wouldn’t attribute his recent play to that. Opponents have been pushing Rangers away lately which obviously can cause Panarin to lose his game.

“We definitely have to go to the net,” Panarin said. “Sometimes I look at the shifts and I don’t know [what] to change. Maybe a few steps closer to the net. I was looking [Friday] our game against Seattle and I usually stay away, so maybe I missed that puck a few times because I’m not that close. … You have to feel it probably because sometimes you can fire 100 shots and score one because they’re not dangerous shots.

“Of course a guy has to go to the net and then we start throwing pucks. I might go online [Saturday night].”

New York Post

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