Opinion: Is Panarin Ruining His Legacy As a Blueshirt With Poor Performances in the Playoffs?

Photo By Sarah Stier-USA TODAY Sports
Photo By Sarah Stier-USA TODAY Sports

Since the 2019-20 season, New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin has driven the team’s offense.

He has produced at a high level, scored big goals, come through on special teams, and a lot of the team’s offense has gone through him. This has been the case since the team signed him as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019.

Panarin, 32, seems only to do these things during the regular season. While that helps the club pick up wins in the standings, it means nothing if he cannot do it when it matters most in the hockey season – the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After losing 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Florida Panthers, the Blueshirts have been bounced from the postseason for the third straight season. In 2022, they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, and last season, the New Jersey Devils beat them in seven games in the first round.

The Panthers victimized the Rangers this year and did so convincingly despite the series going six games. Much like their two previous losses, the lack of consistent offense from Panarin was a major factor in the team losing each season.

Panarin’s struggles have been puzzling. Let’s take a look at what he has done in the regular season since joining the Blueshirts:

  • 2019-20: 32 goals and 63 assists for 95 points in 69 games (COVID-shortened season)
  • 2021-22: 17 goals and 41 assists for 58 points in 42 games (COVID-shortened season)
  • 2022-23: 29 goals and 63 assists for 92 points in 82 games
  • 2023-24: 49 goals and 71 assists for 120 points in 82 games

The playoffs, however, have been an entirely different story for Panarin. Just take a look at these numbers:

  • 2021-22: Six goals and 10 assists for 16 points in 20 games
  • 2022-23: Two assists in seven games
  • 2023-24: Five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 15 games

While the numbers do not look bad for 2022 and even this year’s playoffs, those goal totals are poor. Yes, assists are great, but the Rangers needed Panarin to score goals and after scoring 49 goals in the regular season this year, scoring five goals in the playoffs is unacceptable.

Panarin did not look like himself after scoring the overtime winner in Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round. Since then, he looked slower, did not backcheck as hard, did not get in on the forecheck, did not go hard to net, and was nowhere near the dangerous offensive player he was in the regular season.

This is officially a pattern. That is three straight playoff years where Panarin has played well below expectations and has not shown up when the team has needed him the most.

Yes, hockey is a team sport, and players like Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad also struggled mightily against the Panthers, but Panarin’s struggles were on a whole different level. To have just one goal which was scored with just under two minutes to play in the last period of Game 6, in the Conference Finals is disappointing.

Panarin is always going to have great stats in the regular season. The game is easier for him as there are more opportunities to score, more open ice, and not as much pressure.

The playoffs, however, seem to scare Panarin for whatever reason. He has not been able to make adjustments to his game and has yet to play playoff-style hockey, a style that forces a player to go to the front of the net, take a hit to make a play, go to the corners to get loose pucks and drive hard to the net.

With just two years remaining on his contract, Panarin needs to figure out how to become a playoff performer and produce consistently when the games are on the line. If he cannot figure out a way to do that, it could end up spoiling what has been perhaps the team’s best free-agent signing in franchise history.

In this weeks episode Will Wright from Blueseatblogs comes on to discuss the Trouba situation, Prospects, Mika and more.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Guest Will Wright
  2. There's more to come……….Right ?
  3. Guest Colin Stephenson
  4. Guest HockeyStatMiner
  5. Many Directions, One Goal

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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