RALEIGH, NC — Artemi Panarin said Rangers had to play a more conservative game in the playoffs, which has prevented the star winger from taking the risks he usually takes on the ice.
“I’d love to do some stupid things on the blue line, but I can’t,” Panarin said without the help of a translator ahead of Game 2 of Rangers’ second-round series against the Hurricanes on Friday night at PNC Arena.
But that’s what makes him who he is – and Rangers will need Panarin to fall back on if they hope to beat Carolina in the series.
However, looking back at Rangers’ 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1, it’s understandable why Panarin felt like there was nothing “crazy” to do while his team went 1-1 for more than half of the competition: 0 took the lead. Still, the 30-year-old Russian hasn’t made the kind of impact Rangers need from him against such tough competition in the Hurricanes.
He recorded just two shots on target with one hit, one takeaway and two giveaways in 18:01 in Game 1.
“I try to play the same way, but sometimes I just can’t do it,” said Panarin. “We played as a team in the last game. For me it’s probably the best two and a half periods [for] a team game. Pretty conservative, disciplined, everyone does perfect things but not enough.”
Since the first three games of the first-round series against Pittsburgh, Panarin and linemates Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome have struggled to generate attacks. Copp scored in each of the first three games, two of which involved his linemates, before scoring an empty net in Game 6 against the Penguins.
Panarin recorded the series winner in Game 7, winning overtime to send the Rangers after scoring two goals and five assists in the first six games. But it’s obvious that he hasn’t been as dynamic as he was towards the end of the regular season when he has 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in his last 15 games.
When asked if the lack of powerplay time in the series opener against the Hurricanes prevented him from getting to his game, Panarin said he thinks it’s more about not having the puck as often. He noted that his line needs to generate more time in the offensive zone to either create chances or take penalties.
“I think we have to move closer together, support each other more,” he said of his line. “I think a little bit of everything, put more on the ice.”
Should the top six continue to struggle offensively in this series, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant will have some lineup decisions to make. The kid line of Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko has been the most consistent trio for Rangers in these playoffs.
Would Gallant split up his best unit and try to spread the wealth? Or would the coach keep them together?
“Actually, I think about it quite a bit,” Gallant said. “But I’ll leave her alone for now.”
https://nypost.com/2022/05/20/rangers-conservative-gameplan-hindering-artemi-panarin/ Rangers’ conservative game plan hampers Artemi Panarin