Privet, Breadman. That’s how the New York Rangers announced that Artemi Panarin had returned to practice after taking a leave of absence from the team. Panarin had been dealing with the aftermath of an accusation that appeared in Russian media, which the Rangers and he both immediately denounced as untrue. It has been several weeks since he left the team, so to see him back on the ice was a welcome picture for fans of the team.
It may not be a welcoming sight for New York’s opponents though, given how important Panarin is to the team’s attack. The 29-year-old winger was a finalist for the Hart Trophy last season and had 18 points in 14 games before leaving the team. If he is back for good, the Rangers—who are not completely out of the running, but a 10-11-3 record so far isn’t great—will be a much tougher team to take on.
In the brutal East Division, even a positive goal differential hasn’t been good enough to result in much success. The Rangers sit sixth, six points behind the Philadelphia Flyers and seven points behind the Boston Bruins for a playoff spot. Panarin’s return couldn’t come at a better time, given New York will play the Bruins and Flyers for the next four games.
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