It's been an interesting start to Artemi Panarin's career with the Blue Jackets.
After being traded to Columbus in a blockbuster that caught the hockey world by surprise last summer, the gifted Russian is still settling into his new surroundings. He's got the same nickname that was assigned to him by the Blackhawks in Chicago, "The Bread Man," but that's where the similarities to the Windy City end.
He's got a locker room full of new teammates, a new position on the power play, a new city to explore and a new coach in John Tortorella, who's fiery in a different way than Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
Panarin is also tied with defenseman Seth Jones for the team lead in points (12), but only two were the result of goals scored by him. After reaching the 30-goal plateau in each of his first two NHL seasons, both with the Blackhawks, Panarin has two goals on 47 shots (4.2 percent) - both scored against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
He scored the second one Monday at Madison Square Garden, which was the first goal in a game the Blue Jackets lost 5-3, when they allowed three power-play goals in the third period.
Panarin spoke with three Russian reporters after the game, including one from NHL Network. The interview was published online by the Russian version of NHL.com.
Audio of the conversation was sent to Russian sports journalist Vika Bulakhova, of Russian Chicago Magazine, for translation. Bulakhova covered Panarin each season he played in Chicago and keeps tabs on his career.
Here are some excerpts from her translation of Monday's postgame media scrum:
On the 5-3 loss to the Rangers:
"It seems to me that we started not too bad. Penalties didn't help us at all. We had lot of chances, like exits three on two. They played back-to-back games, right? Maybe, that's why they couldn't catch up with us, and we had lots of chances and should have won the game. But they had a different opinion with that matter."
On the Blue Jackets' three penalties in the third period against New York, including Panarin for high-sticking, which all led to power-play goals:
"We had sort of unlucky penalties. Like in my case, the stick just got stuck up. I didn't even [put] there. The stick just happened to lay on his cheek. The guys had the same luck. [David] Savard touched up on a guy a bit …"
On his happiness in Columbus:
"Not sure how to answer. Should I use percentages? I am happy to be on this team 100 percent. The season is long. It is not enough to start good; The main goal is to play good the whole season, with no hiccups along the way."
On Panarin's career-long 10-game goal drought, he ended by scoring on the Rangers:
"I have a deal with Lundquist: I score only when he plays in the [net]. I have to thank him for that, but it seems that I am just lacking confidence. At first I was trying to pass more. I am just the kind of player that when I see an open player, I will pass the puck to him. I won't be trying to shoot myself. And it seemed at first my assists were on point, but the guys couldn't score. Then I started feeling pressure that I can't score myself.
"Everybody started rushing me; I started rushing myself. Then [my] confidence disappeared at all [sic], because I hardly scored at all. I had many opportunities, but couldn't score. Now, hopefully I am back on the right track. I am more mature, though. I don't pressure myself as much when I don't score as I used to do before. I tried to have a more philosophical approach to that matter, [knowing] sooner or later [the] "no scoring" period will end. The main thing is, I am not a lazy one, not the one who doesn't want to play hockey. Simply put, it is just not happening to score [right now]."
On Cam Atkinson's lower body injury, which caused him to miss four games:
"Of course, it does matter when your teammate gets injured, no matter who it is. Calvert got injured, as well. Not sure what happened with him, but it all happens [sic]. As far as I know, Cam will be playing in the next game [Tuesday], so everything will be all right."
On playing with former Blackhawks teammate Tyler Motte against the Rangers on Monday, and whether Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is trying to re-create Chicago's chemistry between Panarin and Patrick Kane:
"It is hard to compare somebody with Patrick Kane. He is too good. I am happy who I am playing with. I am happy that I am playing hockey, in general. The main focus for me is not to worry too much, and everything will be all right. This season, I am trying to stay mentally and physically strong. There is not enough time to do any technical improvements or practice. All that has been done during the summertime."
On comparing life off the ice between Chicago and Columbus:
"I have everything I need in Columbus. Of course, Columbus is much smaller than Chicago, but I am this kind of person, who doesn't need too much in life. Everything I need, I have in Columbus. That city is calmer and cleaner. All my life consists of hockey practices. After that, I come home for lunch, then I play PlayStation a bit, take the dog out for a walk before the game, and then head to bed. Day in and day out is pretty much the same. I don't have much time for entertainment."
On who he's communicating with every day:
"I keep in touch with my teammates. 'My English better.' That's why I have the opportunity to communicate with the guys more than I did in Chicago. Plus, I have Sergei Bobrovsky. Everything is good. So, to say, I am not feeling any discomfort in terms of communication with others."