But how would Artemi Panarin fare without future-Hall of Famer Patrick Kane?
We all grew weary of that question. Whether it was the day of the trade, June 23, 2017, a week, a month after, or back in March. Turns out, the talented, dynamic Russian forward did quite well for his new Columbus Blue Jackets team.
Seeking that elusive upgrade in scoring talent after the 2016-17 playoff exit, Panarin helped position the Blue Jackets to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in club history. And with the team suffering through its assorted share of injuries and (in)offensive impotency spells, it’s fair to wonder just how far, or not, this team goes without the 26-year-old in 2017-18.
Artemi Panarin 2017-18 Stats
Games played: 81
Time on ice: 20:08
Penalty Minutes: 26
Corsi For (even strength): 57.0
Fresh off a career, and franchise single-season-high 55 assists and 82 points, Panarin dazzled fans, players and even coach John Tortorella on a nightly basis with his dynamic, game-breaking scoring prowess.
He started the season off with three assists against the Islanders and scored his first Blue Jackets goal a few games later versus the Rangers. Panarin also added the hat-trick against the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, and for the season, had seven points (6-1) in four games against the Broadway Blueshirts.
Panarin led the Jackets in points-per-game (1.01) with defenseman Seth Jones coming in second (0.73). Cam Atkinson was the second-closest forward (0.71) and he missed 17 games with two injury stints. And this was despite Panarin scoring just two goals one month into the season. From New Years’ Day through the final game of the regular season, Panarin was 12th among players in scoring with 48 points.
He also never went more than three games without a point, including 19 multi-point games, plus three more in the playoffs. During the regular season, he had one five-point game, two four-point games, five three-point games, and 11 two-point games. Panarin’s longest point-streak was six games (3—7-10).
Interestingly enough, Panarin’s shooting percentage dropped for a third-consecutive year, and down nearly three percent from 2016-17 to 11.8%.
Panarin’s Monthly Scoring Totals
In the playoffs, Panarin brought the same dynamic touch and offensive skill through the first three games of the Blue Jackets first-round series against the Capitals. He matched his previous playoff high of seven points (two goals, five assists) which led the team, and all through the first three games of the series including scoring the overtime Game 1 winner.
Then the Capitals made on-ice matchup adjustments (this article illustrates that) for Games’ 4-6 and Panarin was kept off the scoresheet for the rest of the series. Panarin’s agent, Dan Milstein, also confirmed Panarin suffered a sprained knee during the Game 5 loss. In his end-of-season exit interview, GM Jarmo Kekäläinen only said Panarin “had an injury in that game” and “he played banged up in the playoffs, but that’s it.”
The Blue Jackets had a greater-than-decent chance at taking a 3-0 series lead against the Capitals, instead, falling just short in the third consecutive overtime affair in Columbus. Panarin and Atkinson’s 2-on-1 up the ice to tie the score early in the third period provided the kind of dramatics the Jackets had played through late in the season, and early and often, into their first-round matchup.
You just had that feeling that they would again, come out victorious. While it may have seemed like a golden opportunity lost, the Jackets still had the series edge and Game 4 back at Columbus.
Instead, they played their worst game and any possible momentum was fleeting.
In Game 5, Columbus again played well, but just could not pull the trigger late to get that elusive go-ahead goal, despite a 16-1 shots advantage during the third period and chances in the fourth overtime of the series.
Panarin, again, banged up, played 27:11, third on the team, in that Game 5 and put up four shots on goal. He played over seven minutes on the power play, but as successful as the man-advantage was through the first two games (4-for-8), the power play dried up, going 0-for-5 in that Game 5, and 0-for-12 in Games 4-6. Beyond that, Panarin’s points primarily came on the power play, with just three of the seven coming even-strength.
Panarin only had two shots on goal in Game 6 and one in Game 4.
All in all, it’s no question the impact Panarin provided for Columbus during the regular season and playoffs. It’s possible any injury affected his play, but it’s also no secret that the Capitals were not going to allow Panarin the opportunity to further wreak havoc as he did in the first three games. Some of that, Panarin included, is on the team as a collective group, other players needing to step up and just find a way.
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