It almost feels like hyperbole to say that Artemi Panarin‘s legacy with the Rangers rests on Game 6 of a first round series, but that’s where we are. Through the first five games Panarin has been a non-factor for the Blueshirts, which in turn has become one of the driving factors of why this team with Stanley Cup aspirations is on the precipice of defeat.
How did we get here?
It didn’t start with just this postseason. Through 20 playoff games last year Panarin registered only 16 points and with just one memorable moment. While 16 points in 20 playoff games might not sound awful, when you’re brought in to be a game breaker 16 points in 20 is hardly something worth lauding. It was a letdown and Rangers fans can be pretty unforgiving when you’re a letdown in big moments.
Fair or not, when you’re a big name acquisition for the New York Rangers you’re expected to perform like Mark Messier in key spots. Panarin just hasn’t lived up to that billing.
Let’s be perfectly honest, Derick Brassard was more of a big game postseason player than Artemi Panarin has been for the New York Rangers. An older version of Brad Richards who had a hard time skating was a more clutch performer in his time on Broadway than the Breadman. That’s a huge issue plaguing Panarin’s legacy.
However the beauty of professional sports is that at any moment you have a chance to flip the script and re-write the narrative in your own favor. Panarin has that very shot starting in Game Six. Panarin has the same opportunity that Mark Messier did in Game 6 so many years ago, to rewrite the narrative and become a Rangers legend. Panarin’s legacy now depends on it.
Breathe life back into a lifeless franchise, dig deep and embrace the moment and opportunity in front of you. At this point nobody’s expecting anything from Panarin because of how lifeless he and the franchise have been in the last two games. If Panarin can somehow find a way to find his game it can go a long way into propelling this Rangers team right back on track.
Like Rob said on the latest Live from the Blue Seats podcast, when asked about Panarin being a playoff player, “you’re not until you are” and Panarin has terrific chance to change his Rangers history and legacy with a turnaround performance. It can’t just be one game, but one terrific night in a must win for the Blueshirts will go a long way to helping change Panarin’s legacy and how Rangers fans feel about their beleaguered superstar.