Rangers suppress Artemi Panarin’s most valuable qualities

RALEIGH, NC — We know we didn’t see the real Artemi Panarin in the first eight games of the playoffs. So does the real Artemi Panarin. But we may have to wait for the return of the instinctive, electric and entertaining No. 10 for the first puck drop of the 2022-23 season.

That doesn’t mean Panarin is injured or overly injured and will need the offseason to recover as speculation has raged in reaction to the winger’s ordinary at best game. With that, Panarin has recognized that his risk-based play needs to be toned down in the playoffs.

That was particularly noticeable in Carolina’s 2-1 win in Game 1 of overtime on Wednesday, when Panarin was barely noticeable, aside from being on a backchecking order on Sebastian Aho’s goal that ended the game 2:23 in the third Third finished, coming up short.

“[I] didn’t play bad [it’s] It’s just hard to do something crazy when we’re 1-0 up, so I’m playing a pretty conservative game,” Panarin said, without the use of an interpreter, hours before Game 2 on Friday. “I try not to take it as much of a risk as I usually take.

“[It’s] doesn’t feel good, but sometimes you have to do that. It depends on the situation in the game. If you lose a few nothings, you need to start playing as usual. I’d like to do some silly things on the blue line, but I can’t.

“I feel sorry for Turk,” the No10 said, referring to head coach Gerard Gallant. “He’s nervous, he has a nervous system.”

Artemi Panarin
Artemi Panarin was forced to rein in some of his risk taking during the playoffs.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

On the contrary, Gallant has developed a system to minimize nervous hockey. All coaches do it. All coaches stress the importance of limiting playoff errors. It’s more about what you leave than what you take. It’s about giving away as little as possible for free. It’s about being risk averse.

That goes against Panarin’s instincts. When he’s at his best, Panarin wags and stutters, is erratic with the puck, and tends to attempt 50-foot cross-ice passes through a maze of bodies and sticks.

This is high-level, risk-reward hockey that has paid off quite spectacularly for both Panarin and the Rangers since he signed his seven-year, $81.5 million free agent contract on July 1, 2019 Has. A signing has dramatically accelerated the team’s rebuilding schedule. Panarin’s hockey has 249 points (71-178) in 186 games as a ranger, is ninth in the league and a highlight reel that’s on a loop.

Well, not quite and not really much at all, although in Round 1 against Pittsburgh Panarin scored the Game 7 overtime winner with a nasty wrister from the right circle through traffic that found a net splitter. Without taking any risks, he has become a vanilla player. Without the dynamic element, his line with Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp was suppressed.

It’s a bit like that old episode of the “Superman” TV series where Superman had to split in half. This stripped each version of full superhero powers. This is Panarin in a risk-averse scenario.

Of course it makes sense, the Rangers can’t afford mid-ice rallies and need to try to limit Carolina’s transition play as much as possible. That means simplifying and playing as much straight line hockey as possible. Panarin understands.

“It’s just the game in the playoffs,” said the winger, who went through the tournament in Game 2 with seven points (3:4). “You have to use your better sides. My better side is being a bit risky, but sometimes you have to understand that there is no need to take risks in this situation.”

Depending on how this series unfolds, there may come a time when both Panarin and Gallant realize that a low-risk equation leading to a low-reward outcome is actually counterproductive.

Gerard Gallant, left, celebrates with Artmei Panarin after his series-winning goal against the Penguins.
Gerard Gallant, left, celebrates with Artmei Panarin after his series-winning goal against the Penguins.
AP

There could also come a time when Panarin better understands how to incorporate tolerable risk into his game when Rangers need his offense. Which, let’s face it, pretty much always is.

Neither Strome’s line nor Mika Zibanejad’s unit with Chris Kreider and Frank Vatrano generated a major attack in Game 1. The energetic and perhaps naïve Kid Line, with Filip Chytil running between Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, was clearly Rangers’ best unit on Wednesday.

Gallant said he was considering disbanding that unit to get a component or two in the top 6. That was another risk-reward conundrum for the trainer.

“I think about that a lot, actually, but I’ll leave her alone for now,” Gallant said. “We think about that every day as coaches, definitely when that one line is going really well with the kid line and you’re moving it up and down and you [could] screw up something good.”

That’s not what you want.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/20/rangers-suppressing-artemi-panarins-most-valuable-qualities/ Rangers suppress Artemi Panarin’s most valuable qualities

JOE HERNANDEZ

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