Artemi Panarin dropped to Rangers third line for do-or-die Game 6

Head coach Gerard Gallant presented some new lines today at practice in preparation for tomorrow’s do-or-die Game 6 at the Garden.

Vladimir Tarasenko has been bumped to the first line right wing with Patrick Kane now on the second. However, the stunning move was dropping superstar Artemi Panarin to the third line and promoting Alexis Lafreniere to the second.

Per multiple reports, here are the projected forward lines for Game 6:

  • Kreider – Zibanejad – Tarasenko
  • Lafreniere – Trocheck – Kane
  • Panarin – Chytil – Kakko
  • Vesey – Goodrow – Motte

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Artemi Panarin demoted

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Apr 24, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) fights for the puck against New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (13) during the first period in game four of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When the head coach was asked by Larry Brooks of the NY Post if this was to spark the team or find some new chemistry, he responded that it was “a little of both.”

Panarin came into the postseason humming registering 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in the team’s final 6 regular-season matches. In Game 1 of the series, he notched two assists but has failed to register a point since.

While Gallant may not be calling out individuals after yesterday’s forgettable performance by the team, it was a failed coverage assignment by Panarin and Tarasenko on the Ondrej Palat’s opening score 39 seconds in that put the team behind the 8-ball.

Regardless, the 31 year-old winger needs to be better by leaps and bounds from what he’s shown so far. As the team’s leading scorer in regular-season (92 points), he simply must become a key offensive driver in the post season.