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Rangers patiently wait for Mika Zibanejad's scoring to pick up

The Rangers' Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad celebrate

The Rangers' Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad celebrate the team's win over the Capitals in an NHL game on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/Bruce Bennett

Mika Zibanejad’s assist on Pavel Buchnevich’s empty-net goal on Thursday night was his first point in seven games. The Rangers’ No. 1 center has just one goal and two assists in 10 games, tied for eighth on the team in scoring.

But with the Blueshirts having won two straight games and three of their last four (3-0-1), coach David Quinn has the luxury of being patient as he waits for Zibanejad’s scoring to pick up.

"With having [had] COVID, and really not being able to do an awful lot before the season started, he certainly hasn’t gotten off to the start that I know that he wants to statistically, or that we want him to,’’ Quinn said Friday after practice. "But he still has done good things, that’s for sure. And sooner or later, the points will start coming and he’s going to be the elite player that we all saw — have seen for a while.’’

Zibanejad had a career-high 41 goals in only 57 games in 2019-20 but missed just about all of training camp after testing positive for the coronavirus. Quinn thinks part of the problem for the 27-year-old Swede is how well he has played in recent seasons.

"I think the expectations, not only here in New York but I think in the hockey world, are high because of the bar he has set over the last two years,’’ he said. "And we have no doubt he’s going to end up ultimately reaching that level here sometime soon.’’

Trouba blocks nine

Defenseman Jacob Trouba said he was none the worse for wear after blocking nine shots in Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Capitals.

"I think most of them were actually with my stick, so none were too bad,’’ he said with a smile.

The franchise record for blocked shots in a single game is 10 by Dan Girardi on March 31, 2015, against Winnipeg.

Drury promoted

Days after he reportedly turned down the chance to become general manager of the Penguins, Chris Drury was promoted from assistant GM to associate GM, the Rangers announced Friday.

Drury, 44, will continue his duties in serving as GM of the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford as well as continuing to assist GM Jeff Gorton in trade and contract negotiations.

On Wednesday, Drury took his name out of consideration for the Pittsburgh job, which unexpectedly became vacant after the resignation of Jim Rutherford. Last summer, Drury took himself out of consideration for the Florida job.  

Blue lines

Quinn said he hasn’t decided whether Alexandar Georgiev, who dominates the Islanders, or Igor Shesterkin, who has won his last three starts, will play Monday against the Isles . . . None of the injured players — defensemen Jack Johnson (groin) and Brendan Smith (upper body) and forward Colin Blackwell (upper body) — are expected to be available for Monday’s game. None practiced Friday.

New York Sports