Adam Fox is turning heads with an 11-game point streak and his stellar all-around play. Artemi Panarin is on pace to average more points per game this season than last when he was a finalist for the Hart Trophy. Head coach David Quinn talks about what’s needed for success down the stretch, and more.
Fox for Norris?
Fox had a 10-game point-scoring streak, which prompted Dan Rosen and NHL.com to call him the frontrunner among East Division rearguards to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman. He’s now on an 11-game streak after he assisted on Panarin’s goal early in Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are third in the East, the Rangers are in sixth.
In those 11 games, Fox has 21 points, including a five-assist night against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 25. He’s also plus-11 with a game-winning goal while logging around 25 minutes of ice time per game. Not to mention, he’s starting the rush and has sprung players for several unfinished scoring chances. Since March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, the former 2016 third-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames has been the top point-getter in the NHL.
After Tuesday’s 8-4 win, Fox deflected praise to his teammates and the future. “We’ve got a great group of guys in here – a pretty young team, and a hungry team – and we’re trying to make a push here,” he said. When asked about Igor Shesterkin during the post-game presser, Fox told Larry Brooks of the NY Post, “He’s been great all year. He’s always giving us a chance to win and makes huge saves for us.”
Panarin Extends Point Streak
Panarin extended his latest point streak to four games against the Penguins. It was his fourth straight multi-point game and his highest single-game total of the season with four. Panarin had a goal and two assists in the first period and added another assist in the third on a goal by Pavel Buchnevich. During the streak, he’s tallied four goals and seven assists.
After Tuesday’s game, Panarin ranked second in the league behind Connor McDavid in points-per-game average as well as assists per game at 1.48 and 1.04, respectively. He has 134 points in 97 games with the Rangers. In Jaromir Jagr’s first 100 games with the Rangers, he scored 133 points, and Mark Messier scored 137. As of now, the Breadman is sandwiched between two of the greatest players of all time, and if he scores four points in the next three games, he will top the list. If at least three of those points are assists, he’ll top “The Captain” in that category also.
Eighty-seven of those points came in 54 games at Madison Square Garden. Panarin averaged 1.38 points per game last season, and if he keeps up his pace this season or even slightly falls back, he’ll become the second Rangers’ player along with Messier to average at least 1.30 points per game in two different seasons and the first to do it for the Blueshirt’s in back-to-back seasons.
Down the Stretch
Quinn spoke of the importance of mental and physical toughness down the stretch after Tuesday’s pregame skate. When asked to comment if that was on display during his team’s 8-4 rout of the Penguins during the post-game presser, he replied, “Well, it was a funny game, I’ll tell you that. We were very opportunistic. Our power play was very good. We found a way to win.” He continued, “We found a way to win tonight, but I think if you talked to our guys, we realize we’re gonna have to play better than that if we’re gonna win consistently. That being said, it’s hard to win in this league, and we’re certainly happy with the two points.”
Quinn also mentioned that giving up the two third-period goals wasn’t acceptable. “We need to learn to play better in those situations [with a big lead],” he said.
Players Get COVID Vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines are now available to people over the age of 16 in New York. Many Rangers players and staff opted to get vaccinated, and the organization is encouraging their fans to do so while applauding New York’s efforts to expand the eligibility criteria for people to get the shot or shots. On the same note, the Rangers and MSG announced there are two new ways for fans to see a game live. You can enter with proof of a negative antigen COVID-19 test or full vaccination.
Will Fox win the Norris? Can Panarin keep up his points-per-game pace? Will Quinn’s words on toughness propel them to a playoff berth? All of that remains to be seen as MSG tries to allow more fans into the arena.
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, by way of Detroit, MI. Uniquely diverse experiences have shaped Scott’s life in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world, learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts, becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents. Scott is available for interviews and welcomes questions and topic ideas.