Artemi Panarin injury forces Rangers’ Chris Kreider into NHL All-Star Game

Artemi Panarin’s loss was Chris Kreider’s gain.

Panarin had been selected as the Rangers’ lone All-Star for this weekend’s festivities in St. Louis, but the superlative winger has been dealing with an upper-body injury for about a week. It finally forced him to miss a game, Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders, and will keep him out of what would have been his first All-Star appearance in his fifth NHL season.

Kreider was chosen as a replacement, and gets to make his first appearance at the league-wide party, starting with the skills competition Friday — in which it can be assumed Kreider will participate in the fastest-skater competition — before the three-on-three All-Star Game itself on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Kreider is in the final year of his contract, and this could be a last hurrah as a Ranger before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He has played in every one of the team’s first 48 games, putting up 17 goals and 32 points. He is just above his career-best pace of 28 goals (from 2016-17 and last season) and 53 points (2016-17).

Taken with the 19th-overall pick in 2009, the Boston native burst onto the scene when he came fresh off a national championship at Boston College and played 18 playoff games for the 2012 Rangers, who lost to the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals. Standing 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Kreider is known for his speed and his net-front presence, from where he scored a power-play goal against the Islanders on Tuesday.

Chris Kreider (l) and Artemi Panarin
Chris Kreider (l) and Artemi PanarinAP

Tuesday was Jesper Fast’s 400th NHL game, all with the Rangers. Fast is the fifth Swede who has played in at least 400 games with the Rangers — joining Henrik Lundqvist, Jan Erixon, Anders Hedberg and Tomas Sandstrom. Fast made his debut in the 2013-14 season opener, and his 389 games played since the start of the 2014-15 season are the third-most on the Rangers, trailing Kreider and Marc Staal.

The Rangers went two-for-five on the power play Tuesday and have been the best team in the league on the man-advantage (36.4 percent) since Dec. 27.

The club tied two season-bests Tuesday: The 42 shots on goal equaled their most in a game, and the 18 shots against were tied for the fewest.

For more on the Rangers, listen to the latest episode of the “Up In The Blue Seats” podcast:

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