The 2021 New York Rangers can not seem to escape the front pages. Earlier yesterday, Rangers’ star forward, Artemi Panarin, accused of beating up an eighteen-year-old girl in 2011. During this time, he was nineteen years old and playing in the KHL for head coach Andrei Nazarov.
Nazarov is a very outspoken supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is also equally outspoken about what he thinks of Panarin. Panarin is very critical of Putin’s administration and as a result, created an enemy in his former head coach.
The Rangers have officially come out and stated that the allegations going Panarin’s way are completely false and politically motivated. While this is certainly good news, he will still be out for the long term and out of the lineup for the Blueshirts.
David Quinn’s Greatest Task
This stretch is going to be the toughest task of David Quinn’s coaching career. If Quinn can keep his team focused and prepared despite the off-ice drama, then he will be the man that will lead New York moving forward.
But if the team heads into a downward spiral, it will be the final nail in the coffin for the former BU Head Coach.
Can The Rangers Stick Together?
The same goes for the Rangers themselves. Can the Rangers score goals and produce without Number Ten on the ice? Ever since Panarin signed with the Rangers in 2019, they are 0-3 when he is absent from the lineup. They have only scored four goals during those games. That’s how much Panarin means for this team and organization.
If they are serious about contending in the toughest division in hockey, the Rangers are going to need top guys such as Mika Zibanejad to produce. Zibanejad has only two goals through sixteen games so far this season.
If the Rangers want to see any type of success of putting the puck in the back of the net, Zibnajaed needs to get going. Otherwise, they have no shot of going anywhere this year.
Only Time Will Tell
How the Rangers handle this situation could be the storyline of the NHL. Even if New York finds a way to rally behind their teammate, the Breadman’s absence may be too much to overcome.