Richard Panik has been a streaky player for the majority of his career. His inconsistent play in the past is part of the reason why he was waived by the Tampa Bay Lightning and why he was traded to Chicago by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, Panik’s 17-game goal drought is unexpected and unnerving after a breakout 22-goal, 44-point season last year. The Blackhawks rewarded Panik with a two-year, $5.6 million contract last summer and right now they’re are getting very little return on their investment.
Panik started last night’s game on the top line, but by the start of the second he was skating on the fourth line with John Hayden getting time with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews.
“Certain goal-scorers or players, they get hot and cold,” head coach Joel Quenneville said about Panik’s struggles, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “In his case, [if he can find that] consistency, [it] makes him potentially a power forward. You have to hit, and you have to bang. If you’re not scoring, you still like to bang. In his case, he plays more effective when he’s more physically engaged, whether he’s at the net or he’s hard to play against coming up with pucks in the corners.”
Panik is a player who seems to play best when he is also being physical on the ice. Perhaps some time on the “checking line” with Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels will do him some good. He is certainly a guy that needs to simplify his game and stop thinking so much on the ice.