It clearly was always the plan for Artemi Panarin to wait until Friday, the fourth game of the preseason for the Rangers, to make his first appearance of the preseason. What wasn’t part of the plan was that Vincent Trocheck, who is set to be Panarin’s new center this season, would miss the game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center with an illness.
But Panarin, who scored in the 2-1 victory over the Devils, and the Rangers aren’t worried about the Russian forward missing out on a chance to start creating some chemistry with Trocheck, who signed as a free agent this summer. The two have been playing together in practices since the first day of camp.
“I think we’ve had enough time,’’ Panarin said. “I mean, we play the same game. It’s hockey, so we probably have to figure out in the instincts.’’
It’s probably more important for Trocheck to figure out Panarin than the other way around. While Panarin is listed as a left wing, he really has the freedom to roam all over the ice and make plays from everywhere. Trocheck is going to have to learn where to look for Panarin and how and when to get him the puck.
Panarin insisted it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, likening it to finding instant chemistry with a new teammate who is brought in at the trade deadline. He and Ryan Strome, his center for the previous three seasons, found instant chemistry with Andrew Copp after he was acquired at last season’s deadline.
“Sometimes guys come in at the deadline and you feel them right away because they play same hockey,’’ he said. “So we’re all professionals here and I think that’s not a big problem.’’
Coach Gerard Gallant isn’t worried about it, either. “Not at all,’’ he said. “I told you at camp when it started, the first four [preseason] games, we’re going to let everybody have a chance to play some games, most guys, and mix and match some lines. So it’s not a big deal.’’
In the scrimmages the first three days of training camp, Gallant had Panarin and Trocheck with right wing Vitali Kravtsov. Trocheck played in the second preseason game in Boston, between left wing Jimmy Vesey and right wing Alexis Lafrenière. Kravtsov played with Vesey and Filip Chytil in the first game and with Turner Elson and Jonny Brodzinski in the second game.
Against the Devils on Friday, Kravtsov and Panarin were scheduled to be on the same line. Chytil, who played in Thursday’s game against the Devils, was expected to step in for Trocheck and play between the two Russians.
Notes & quotes: K’Andre Miller’s goal at 11:46 of the third period broke a 1-1 tie and goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped all 15 shots he saw, including one from Jack Hughes with 1:22 left in regulation, as the Rangers improved to 2-2 in the preseason. Hughes gave the Devils the lead in the second period and Panarin tied it at 3:48 of the third . . . The Rangers cut eight players, the most notable being forward Brennan Othmann, who was returned to his junior team, Flint of the OHL . . . Forwards Elson, Karl Henriksson, Patrick Khodorenko and C.J. Smith, deenseman Brandon Scanlin and goalie Olof Lindbom were assigned to AHL Hartford and forward Adam Edstrom was assigned to Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League . . . Besides Chytil, forward Julien Gauthier and defenseman Matt Bartkowski played in back-to-back games after having played Thursday . . . The players who weren’t in New Jersey practiced at the Rangers’ facility in Greenburgh, New York. The Rangers said Kaapo Kakko did not practice because of “maintenance.’’