1. Shut Down “Bread Man”
Just this past off season Artemi Panarin signed a monster 8 year 89.5 million dollar contract with New York. Arguably one of the biggest free agents to hit the market in recent years, the Russian winger has fit in just fine. With 30 points, 12 goals and 18 assists, in 22 games the man known as “Bread Man” has been the go to man upfront for the Blue Shirts.
On fire as of late, with nine points in his last five games, the Hurricanes are going to need to take away Panarin’s time and space. In their first meeting of the season, Dougie Hamilton made it far too easy for Panarin to finish off a centering feed from Ryan Strome in the final seconds of the first period. A goal that would end up shifting the momentum in the Rangers favor.
With the Rangers being a young team, most of their offense goes through their top line. With Mika Zibanejad out of the line up since late October, Panarin has become even more important. Averaging 1.37 points per game his finger prints have been all over the score sheet in all but four games this season.
Among the league leaders in points, per usual, it goes without saying Panarin is deadly in the offensive zone. Known for having an elite shot, Bread Man is equal parts playmaker and sniper. With the Hurricanes on the road this time around they don’t have last change, making it more difficult to get the defensive matchups they want.
In Raleigh on the 7th we saw the top D-pair of Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton tasked with shutting down Panarin. With an assist on Adam Fox‘s empty net game sealing goal he finished the night +1 with two points in 18:11 TOI. Tonight if the Canes want to come out on top they’re going to need their entire defense core to step up their efforts to shut down Panarin and the rest of the Rangers’ top line.