Panarin Doing it All for the Blueshirts

After leading the New York Rangers in scoring during the regular season last year with 92 points, Artemi Panarin finished the year on a sour note.

In the club’s first-round ouster at the hand of the New Jersey Devils in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, Panarin, 32, was terrible. He had just two assists, 15 shots on goal, and was a +/- 2. Because of his poor play when it mattered most, Blueshirt fans questioned whether signing him as an unrestricted free agent back in the summer of 2019 was worth it. They looked at his performance in the playoffs and concluded that he might not be a big-game player.

It is clear that Panarin heard the fan’s grumblings during the offseason and took them to heart. He shaved his head and came into this season with a chip on his shoulder. The result has been nothing but aces for both Panarin and the Rangers. Not only are the Rangers currently first in the Metropolitan Division, Eastern Conference, and the entire NHL, but a lot of this success is due to Panarin’s unbelievable play.

Panarin leads the team in all important offensive categories. He currently has 23 goals, 27 assists, 50 points, eight power-play goals, and 145 shots on goal. His offensive exploits were particularly special against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, December 30th. Panarin picked up his second hat trick of the season on four shots in his team’s 5-1 win.

Not only is he doing well statistically for the Blueshirts, but he has been one of the league’s best players this season. He is currently top five in the league in goals and points, and with the way he has played so far, he is garnering a lot of attention as a candidate for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player during the regular season.

There are several reasons why Panarin is having so much success this season. For starters, he is no longer afraid to shoot the puck. Going into this season, Panarin was always a pass-first player. While that usually led to him getting a lot of assists, it also led to him coughing up the puck or missing golden opportunities to shoot the puck.

That has not been the case this season. He is top five in the league in shots on goal this season, and because he has put the puck on the net a lot this season, it has led to more goals for him. Secondly, Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette has shown a lot of faith in Panarin this season. That was not always the case with the team’s previous head coach, Gerard Gallant.

While Panarin still put up a lot of points under Gallant, there were rumors that the two did not always see eye to eye on everything. This may have led to Panarin losing some confidence himself and could be a reason why he struggled so much during the playoffs last season. So far, at least, it has been very different under Laviolette. When Panarin is rolling, Laviolette has not hesitated to double-shift him, and not only that, Laviolette has gotten Panarin to play a 200-foot game to help create turnovers and lead to more offense. Lastly, it looks like Panarin is having a lot of fun this season. With the team having a lot of success and him putting up a lot of points, all is good in his world, and he has a lot to smile about.

Hopefully, for the Rangers, he can do this come April because if he can do so, they are going to be very hard to stop when it matters most.

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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