Artemi Panarin off to great start for Rangers, earning Laviolette’s trust

NHL: New York Rangers at Seattle Kraken
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers beat the Seattle Kraken 4-1 in the first game of their five game road trip on Saturday, led by Artemi Panarin’s two goals. It was a bounce back performance for both the player and the team after a disappointing effort in their loss to the Nashville Predators on home ice on Thursday.

A major story to start the season has been the success of the second line, which includes Panarin, Alexis Lafreniére and Filip Chytil. Panarin, the veteran on the line, has been the anchor. With 7 points and 3 goals to in his first five games, he’s been the team’s best forward.

Panarin is now being applauded for his exceptional start after a bitter playoff performance to end last year. According to multiple reports, many of the veterans had issue with Gerard Gallant’s lack of systems and in-game adjustments leading to the hiring of Peter Laviolette. Panarin certainly welcomed a fresh face behind the bench, as Laviolette has trusted him with loads of ice time.

“I think that he’s one of those players that when he’s going, you want to get him on the ice more,” Laviolette said after explaining his decision to double-shift Panarin. “And so opportunities presented itself to do that. If he’s going and he keeps playing, I’m open to giving him a little bit more ice time.”

Panarin leads all Rangers forwards in average ice time at 19 minutes per game.

Related: Stark contrast between Laviolette and Gallant

Artemi Panarin starting the year right

NHL: New York Rangers at Seattle Kraken
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Panarin has been controlling the puck and play every single shift. He has performed so well thus far that Peter Laviolette occasionally double shifts him in order to generate more offense for other lines. Gerard Gallant never did this with Panarin during his two years in New York. Although to the fans displeasure, maybe shaving his head was the right move for the Rangers superstar.

Panarin is one of the league’s most dynamic forwards. Since joining the Rangers in 2019 he has lead the team in points and has been the team’s best forward. He has been one of the best free agency signings in franchise history. What makes this year different for the “Breadman” is his shoot first mentality. Panarin vision is unlike any other player. He is a pass-first player and is never selfish with the puck. However, this sometimes comes back to bite Panarin as he passes over opportunities to shoot. Panarin has a underrated wrist shot and has been unafraid to rip shots this year. His first three goals of the season have all been wrist shots and we see him shooting a lot more to start the season.

Unfinished Business for Panarin

After the Rangers crushing loss to the Devils in the first round last season, the media and fans called out Panarin’s lackluster performance Panarin had no goals in the series and he was not a factor at all. The Devils shut him down in te neutral zone and he was unable to create any offense. Panarin opened up at the end of last year and said, “I didn’t get the results and got frustrated too early. After that, it snowballed”. Panarin has been a star in the regular season, but he must produce in the playoffs in order for the Rangers to make a serious run for the Cup.

Artemi Panarin has been a bright spot so far for the Rangers this season. His line has been one of the best among the forwards and they are building strong chemistry. Panarin has been able to unleash the potential of Lafreniére as he has shown positive signs to start the season. The Rangers will need Panarin to keep shooting the puck and have his regular season success continue as we look forward to what many hope is a long playoffs.

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