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Artemi Panarin practices with Rangers following leave of absence

Keith Jones, Dominic Moore, and Liam McHugh break down the latest NHL Power Rankings, where the Knights have taken over the top spot while the Isles make a strong case to move up.

Artemi Panarin was back practicing with the Rangers Wednesday, two weeks after he took a personal leave of absence.

The forward last played for the Rangers Feb. 20 and then left the team after Andrei Nazarov, Panarin’s former KHL coach, told a Russian newspaper that Panarin had physically assaulted a woman 10 years ago.

A statement from the Rangers shortly after the news broke said that Panarin “vehemently and unequivocally” denied the allegations. The team called the story an “intimidation tactic” against Panarin because he is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Rangers head coach David Quinn said Wednesday that Panarin will not play Thursday in Boston and is unsure when the forward will return to the lineup.

“He’s all in, ready to go,” Quinn said. “He’s been off the ice for a while, so we’ve got to get him game ready.”

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The Rangers have gone 4-4-0 during Panarin’s absence. While the offense hasn’t suffered greatly -- 3.5 goals per game -- getting him back will be a big boost as he was their leading scorer (five goals, 18 points) before he left.

“He’s such a positive, energetic guy. It was great seeing him, great having him back in the locker room,” said defenseman Ryan Lindgren. “He’s excited to be back and we’re definitely excited to have him back.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.