Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad
Can the Carolina Hurricanes keep up with these forwards?
Starting off with an easy one, Artemi Panarin is one of the most prolific forwards in the entire league. A finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award, there is no question his arrival on Broadway accelerated the Blue Shirts rebuild.
He finds different ways to beat you, and his 95 points in 69 games this season is a clear indicator of that. Tied for third in league scoring, second in assist and second in +/-, he clearly is going to be difficult to shut down.
Mika Zibanejad is the same way. Quietly becoming an elite number one center for New York, he managed to put up 41 goals in just 57 contests. I don’t know how he hasn’t gotten more attention around the league, but if he were to have played the same amount of games as the two Rocket winners (David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin) he would have been the one to finish first in the NHL in goal scoring.
His 1.31 points per game put him on the same level as guys like Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, and Nathan MacKinnon. What makes Zibanejad stand out is the fact that he is more of a quiet player. He just seemly does all the little things right and finds a way to beat you.
To put it as simple as possible, Panarin and Zibanejad are going to produce and put up big points. Both of these guys are elite and will find a way to get on the score sheet no matter how tightly you defend them.
In the four-game regular-season series the duo alone combined for a whopping seven goals, nine assists, and sixteen points against the Hurricanes. While those numbers are very impressive, Mika didn’t even play in all four games. Missing time with an injury, it is scary to think that the point total could have been even higher.
Over their entire careers, both guys have produced at a point per game pace versus Carolina. In the playoffs their production is about the same, making it extremely important for the Canes to limit their chances as much as possible.