The Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning is officially a series after the Bolts tied it 2-2 with a 4-1 win in Game 4 on Tuesday at Amalie Arena.
New York didn't get particularly great play from any player on Tuesday night, though fans were particularly critical of Artemi Panarin. He did score a goal on the power play late in the third period, but it was too little, too late.
Panarin's performance this postseason, especially against the Bolts, has left fans wanting more from the player their team is paying $81.5 million over seven years.
LETS GO RANGERS!!! @Sleevez
Is it just me or is Panarin not built for the playoffs! Soft players can’t play a hard game & that’s what the nhl playoffs are all about! He plays scared..afraid to take a hit & never throws a hit! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/softbakedBread?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#softbakedBread</a>
Pierson W. McDonald 🙏🏼🇺🇦 @PiersonMcD
The Artemi Panarin Bread Company must be outta dough tonight. He’s been the yeast impressive player. His game is a little flat and kinda stale. He kneads to rise up for the NY Rangers.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHL</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBolts?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoBolts</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NoQuitInNY?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NoQuitInNY</a>
Panarin had an impressive regular season, tallying 22 goals and 74 assists for 96 points in 75 games, but his performance this postseason hasn't lived up to fans' expectations.
The 30-year-old has six goals and 10 assists in 18 games, and two goals and three assists against the Bolts, but he has turned the puck over far too much and also has been a defensive liability.
According to MoneyPuck.com, Panarin entered Tuesday's game leading all skaters this postseason with 37 giveaways in 17 games, nine more than Jacob Trouba, who has the second-most giveaways with 28.
With the Rangers getting solid production out of many unsuspecting players, such as Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano, the team needs Panarin to play his game if it wants to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Game 5 between the Rangers and Lightning is set for Thursday at 8 p.m. ET in New York.