Rangers’ Panarin Burns Blue Hot

Despite the struggles from the 2019-20 New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin remains one of the team’s few bright spots. Since coming to Broadway in July, he has 9 goals, and 14 assists for a grand total of 23 points in 18 games played this season. He is first in all three of these categories for the Rangers this season and he is also currently riding a career-high 11-game point streak.

Panarin’s Historic Point Streak

Artemi Panarin has been around the NHL for a while now and he hasn’t had a disappointing season from a statistical standpoint so far. In fact, he has never had under 70 points in a single season since entering the league in 2015. While this is impressive, what I am more fascinated about is the fact that this is the first time in his career where he has had 11-straight games with a point.

Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Think about it for just a second. Panarin played for the Chicago Blackhawks in his first two seasons, and then the Columbus Blue Jackets in his next two and never had a point streak of this length. The reason why I say to think about it is that both the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets had better offense during those years than the Rangers currently do. I find that to be very impressive considering the lack of firepower the New York offense possesses. I’m not sure how much lower the Rangers offensive statistics would be if Panarin was not on the roster, so let’s be thankful that isn’t something to worry about.

Instead, Panarin has been able to perform at a premium in these tough circumstances. This point streak dates back to Oct. 24 when the Rangers took on the Buffalo Sabres. In that game, he tallied his fifth goal as a Ranger in a 6-2 win. He has gone on to add an additional four goals and 12 assists.

The “Bread Man” has also been able to find himself in some pretty elite territory during his streak. In this span, he is tied in fifth with Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aleksander Barkov for the most points produced by a forward. The Rangers couldn’t have asked for a better offseason acquisition than Panarin. He is doing exactly what both the fans and organization expected and that is to be highly efficient on offense.

Panarin Thriving on Top Line

Despite not having a whole lot of depth on their roster due to their youth developing, the Rangers do have some playmakers with value that have helped Panarin immensely during his streak. One name that comes to mind is Ryan Strome. At the moment, he playing center for New York’s top line while Panarin and Jesper Fast flank either side of him. Strome was a fine addition from the Edmonton Oilers last year and it is definitely a big factor as to why Panarin is on his point streak. Strome has been playing well lately himself and it has definitely upped Panarin’s game as well.

New York Rangers Artemi Panarin
New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

At the rate he is going, Panarin is on pace to score 41 goals and 63 assists for 104 points by season’s end. That number would trump any of his previous regular-season statistics for his career. Playing on the top line definitely plays a huge role in how productive a forward will be. He is logging a hefty amount of ice time this year. For example, in his most recent game against the Florida Panthers, he nearly put in 28 minutes of action on the ice with a goal and assist. He is getting plenty of opportunities as head coach Dave Quinn needs to rely on his top unit to keep his team in games this season. Most top lines experience more exposure to the rink than others, but I feel the Rangers are doing it a little more because of their current predicament with their roster.

Zibanejad’s Absence Factors In

One final reason that comes to mind as to why Panarin has been on this recent tear of his is because of Mika Zibanejad’s upper-body injury. If you noticed, Zibanejad went down with his injury on Oct. 27, which is roughly around the time Panarin began this streak. I always hate mentioning how one player’s misfortunes can lead to another’s luck, but I think that’s what happened here in New York. Well, at least partly.

Prior to Panarin’s arrival to the Big Apple, Zibanejad was by far the Rangers’ most productive forward. In 2018-19, he had the best season of his career from a statistical standpoint racking up 30 goals and 44 assists for a total of a career-high 74 points. Both guys were doing fairly well together before the injury, but now without Zibanejad present, it has opened up more opportunities for Panarin.

Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers
Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This situation could have actually gone either way, and the Rangers are fortunate that they got a lucky bounce. In some cases when a talented player goes down, other players suffer because the pressure gets placed on them to carry the load on their own. This causes opposing defenses to key in on them and have less to worry about to shut down the offense. In the Rangers’ case though, it went the opposite. Panarin’s production increased exponentially almost immediately after Zibanejad’s injury.

For all you Zibanejad fans out there I wouldn’t fret too much. Once he is fully healthy to return to the rink, the Rangers will get him right back into the fold at the speed he was going at before he got hurt.

All in all, Panarin is having one heck of a season with his new team this year. What makes this even more exciting is the fact that we are only 18 games into the Rangers’ regular season and there is so much more hockey to come with Panarin. I can’t wait to see if Panarin can keep his streak alive and extend it to 12 games when New York hosts their Metropolitan Division rivals the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. The Capitals have been playing some really good hockey as of late and it will be interesting to see how the Bread Man stacks up against this heavyweight opponent. Make sure to tune in Wednesday to find out how he does in this prime time contest.