Artemi Panarin Shines In Rangers’ Victory Over Buffalo

The Blue Shirts Prized Free Agent Acquisition Shows Jaw-Dropping Skill

Sean Hartnett
October 25, 2019 - 2:34 pm
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There’s no shortage of positive talking points following the Rangers’ 6-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

After a pair of dismal defensive efforts against the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes, the Rangers kept superstar Jack Eichel quiet and lit the lamp six times against a scorching-hot Buffalo team that entered Thursday with an 8-1-1 record.

Head coach David Quinn’s lineup alterations paid off. Ryan Strome scored a pair of goals. Brett Howden probably played his best game as a pro. Brady Skjei and Tony DeAngelo supplied offense from the back end.

As a whole, the Blueshirts played committed hockey on both ends of the rink and Henrik Lundqvist was rock-solid between the pipes, turning aside 31 of 33 shots.

One positive stood out more than any other – and that’s the influence of $11.6 million man Artemi Panarin. The 27-year-old wing set the tone for his team by stealing the puck from Rasmus Dahlin’s stick, then caused Sabres’ goaltender Carter Hutton to bite on a fake before netting a nifty backhander for the game’s opening goal.

Panarin’s jaw-dropping skill, elite offense-driving, dominant transition play, off-the-charts creativity and pinpoint shooting accuracy often gets highlighted. Rightfully so. He is a standout offensive player that can change a game in an instant.

NY Rangers center Artemi Panarin is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks Oct 20, 2019; New York, NY
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Russian wing showed Thursday how quickly he can turn defense into offense. Panarin put Dahlin on his back heel by pressuring the puck. You could see the panic, as Dahlin suddenly saw his time and space disappearing and turned over the puck.

When Panarin, the Rangers’ most outstanding and highest-paid skater is playing aggressively, attacking loose pucks and winning battles all over the ice, this forces teammates to raise their intensity. When you consider the youthfulness of this roster, his example could rub off positively in showing youngsters what it takes to succeed on a nightly basis.

Through his first eight games as a Ranger, Panarin has scored five goals and supplied two assists. That’s right in line with his career output – a shade below a point per game.

I’m sure a lot of fans are wondering if he can match or eclipse the 87 points that he totaled in his final season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. There haven’t been any hiccups in his adjustment to playing with his new Ranger teammates and he’s meshed well with a variety of linemates. Panarin is playing like Panarin right away – and that’s huge.

The more fans study Panarin, the more they’re going to recognize that there are many dimensions to his game. He’s more than a scorer and provider. Panarin makes plays all over the ice, he makes opponents uncomfortable, he excels at carrying the puck and finishing one-on-one.

There’s no shortage of reasons why he’s the sport’s highest-earning winger and he’s off to an ideal start in his new Garden home.

 Follow Sean on Twitter -- @HartnettHockey

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