Rangers’ Panarin, Strome & Hunt Line Stepping Up

The New York Rangers have won six games in a row and 10 of their last 11. After relying heavily on Igor Shesterkin and Chris Kreider early in the season, linemates Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome, and Dryden Hunt have stepped up for the Blueshirts.

Slow Start to the Season for Panarin, Strome, and Hunt

All three players struggled to get into a rhythm early in the season, most notably Panarin, who had just one goal and three assists in his first seven games while also surrendering too many giveaways. Though he made some great plays, he wasn’t as good as he had been in each of the past two seasons when he had 153 points in 111 games.

Artemi Panarin New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin had a slow start to the season after two consecutive excellent seasons with the New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Strome missed four games in October after a bout with COVID-19 and finished with one goal and one assist in five games that month. He also got off to a slow start last season, with just six points in his first 14 games; however, he played well afterward, finishing with 49 points in 56 games.

The Rangers signed Hunt during the offseason, and though he made the opening day lineup, he didn’t get much ice time, playing fewer than 10 minutes in each of the team’s first three games as a fourth-liner. Though he was physical, he didn’t create many scoring chances and had just one goal and one assist in his first 16 games.

Panarin’s Dominance, Strome and Hunt’s Improved Play

Strome centered Panarin’s line for two consecutive seasons, and the two played well together after the former returned to the lineup this season. They have excellent chemistry, consistently creating scoring chances at even strength and on the power play.

Related: Rangers Would Take Big Risk in Replacing Strome With Chytil

Panarin has been setting up his linemates, has helped improve the power play with his play-making skills and quick wrist shot, and has cut down on his turnovers. While he isn’t big, he is very strong on the puck, helping his line sustain pressure in the offensive zone. He has six goals and 16 assists in his last 16 games, and he dominated in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing with a goal and two assists – one on a beautiful cross-ice pass.

Playing with Panarin has helped Strome, who is also doing well. Like Panarin, he likes to hold on to the puck and set up his teammates, but he has also scored a few timely goals for the Rangers this season. He scored a power-play goal to tie the game against the Blackhawks on Saturday and scored on a slap shot for the only goal in a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks on Friday. He has four goals and 10 assists in his last 14 games.

Ryan Strome New York Rangers
Ryan Strome has 14 points in his last 14 games for New York Rangers (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Strome and Panarin have built chemistry with Hunt, who recently joined their line and plays a similar style to Jesper Fast, who had success playing with Strome and Panarin during the 2019-20 season. Hunt forechecks aggressively, drives to the front of the net, and has three goals and one assist in his last seven games.

For the Rangers Moving Forward

Star goaltender Shesterkin is out for at least the next two games, so the rest of the roster needs to play well in front of backup Alexandar Georgiev, who has struggled this season but has played well since Shesterkin’s injury. Panarin’s line is playing at a very high level right now after struggling in their first few games of this season. Their strong play is the driving force behind the Rangers’ success over the last few weeks.

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