Panarin led the Rangers in scoring this season with 92 points (29 goals), including nine goals and 27 assists on the power play. While the regular season totals matched his career high, Panarin’s 2023 will be remembered for disappearing in the playoffs.
He only managed zero goals and two assists in seven games against the Devils and was at the forefront of the criticism from the fans and media.
Since arriving on Broadway in 2020, the 31-year-old has been the driving force behind the Rangers’ offense. The hope is that he can perform in the 2023-24 playoffs, should the Blueshirts qualify. Interestingly, Panarin has even gone to the extent of changing his appearance. Earlier this Summer, he went bald to rid himself of the perceived negative energy from the Devils series.
Panarin sometimes tried feeding Mika Zibanejad and Patrick Kane to the point where it felt inevitable. His tendency to overpass on the power play became emblematic of the Rangers’ strategy.
There were few games this season where Panarin’s presence didn’t influence the outcome. When he performed well and applied offensive zone pressure, New York surged.
However, the team followed suit when he slumped, was neutralized, or overmatched. It was on display during the playoffs. While he wasn’t solely responsible for the team’s first-round exit, his role in the offense’s struggles in games 5 and 7 cannot be denied.
Panarin’s test will come during the playoffs, as the postseason matters for him. It’s precisely why players of his caliber command high salaries, correct? New York’s success next season hinges on their star players delivering when it counts the most. The responsibility for leading this effort falls on the Breadman, making him a key figure in the team’s ambitions of winning a Stanley Cup.