Artemi Panarin will make his first trip to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets since signing with the New York Rangers last summer.
New York Rangers 13-10-3 (29 points)
Columbus Blue Jackets 11-12-4 (26 points)
Venue: Nationwide Arena
Television: MSG Network
The New York Rangers, winners of five games in the last eight, visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night. It will mark the first time Artemi Panarin returns to Nationwide Arena since signing a seven-year, $81.5 million contract with the Blueshirts last summer.
Panarin played with the Blue Jackets for two seasons, scoring 55 goals with 169 points in 160 games. The Blue Jackets tried hard to re-sign the Russian winger, but he wanted to play in a bigger market.
New York came in hungry to sign Panarin. Current Rangers president John Davidson was in the same role for the Blue Jackets while Panarin was there. He told Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic they tried hard to re-sign the winger, even offering more money than the Rangers.
“We tried to sign him (in Columbus). We tried hard to sign him,” Davidson said. “We had dinner one night with the owner and it went on and on and on. He’s still a reasonably young guy and he (was going) to sign an eight-year deal. He wanted something that Columbus couldn’t give him, and that was a big, big city. And he got a big, big city now”.
Panarin has been everything the Rangers hoped for. He leads the team in goals scored (12), assists (21), and points (33). He has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in his last five games.
Panarin has a good relationship with the fans while in Columbus, but admitted to being nervous about their reaction when he takes the ice as a visitor.
“It’s a pretty nervous moment,” Panarin said. “I had a good two years in Columbus. So I’ll try and enjoy. I don’t know how it will happen, the reaction, the fans. So, we’ll see”.
Georgiev gets the start
Line Combinations Used at Practice on Wednesday (via Vince Z. Mercogliano of USA Today)
Lemieux – Zibanejad – Kakko
Panarin – Strome – Kreider
McKegg – Chytil – Buch
Nieves/Haley – Howden – Nieves/Smith
The Rangers will return to New York for a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night. Henrik Lundqvist will start.
The team will then head to the west coast for a four-game trip in seven nights which will have them face-off against the Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and the Anaheim Ducks.