Has anyone seen Artemi Panarin recently?
Yes, he has suited up for the Blue Jackets all year. But since the trade deadline, we've seen a different Breadman — and his play has been quite, ahem, crumby. That's not to say the Blue Jackets haven't looked poor as a whole, because they definitely have.
The Blue Jackets have taken three losses in a row, including last night's 4-1 drubbing to the Edmonton Oilers, a team that should not be able to compete with Columbus, let alone dominate them.
The last time Panarin scored was Feb. 28 against Philadelphia, or, 10 games ago. His +/- since the trade deadline is -9 in 12 games. The execution and effort has simply not been there.
This obviously hurts the Blue Jackets, because they need Panarin's productivity. His usual linemates, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson, have both seen pronounced slumps since the trade deadline. This line, often referred to as one of the best in the Metropolitan Division, has been nothing short of disappointing as of late.
After the trade deadline, the buzz around the Blue Jackets' roster was palpable. The following games haven't exactly followed the storybook conclusion to the regular season that some people foresaw. In fact, the Blue Jackets have arguably looked worse since their acquisitions at the deadline. Leading this disappointment is the Blue Jackets' top line — well, sometimes their top line — it's hard to tell when Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella switches lines up so often.
Below is the (meager) offensive output of Panarin, Dubois, and Atkinson in the 12 games since the Feb. 25 deadline.
Oof, folks. That's not really what you want to see. There's just no sugarcoating it at this point — five goals in 12 games from this line is not going to cut it.
Many NHL voices thought Columbus would try to trade Panarin and/or Bobrovsky before the deadline. When Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen announced the acquisitions of Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene, along with the decision to keep Panarin and Bobrovsky through the deadline, many eyebrows were raised. Experts commended Kekalainen on his boldness, but many questioned the level of commitment that the Blue Jackets would see from Panarin and Bobrovsky, with both players seemingly set on packing their bags and leaving Columbus this summer.
It's fair to question Panarin's effort, at this point. As one of the stars of the team, he is responsible for setting a tone every time he touches the ice. Recently, that tone has been lackadaisical and nonchalant — emblematic of the Blue Jackets' recent play.
There are eight regular-season games left for Panarin to snap out of it. Ultimately, the choice is his, because all signs indicate that he will test free agency. But with the Blue Jackets on the outside looking in and little time left to right the ship, Columbus needs its Breadman to regain his spark more than ever.
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