Significant shift in Panarin and Bobrovsky’s friendship during Eastern Final

Significant shift in Panarin and Bobrovsky’s friendship during Eastern Final

When hockey gets less important than real life...

Chris Gosselin

The Rangers are hosting the Panthers for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final on Wednesday night, and there is a whole lot more on the line for star forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

The duo has been close friends since Panarin was acquired in a trade by the Columbus Blue Jackets and joined Bobrovsky there in 2017.

“He’s my best friend in hockey,” Panarin told, adding how he is the godfather to Bobrovsky’s 2-year-old daughter, Carolina, that their wives are close and speak often and all have gone on vacation together.

Now the two will face one another as soon as tonight in the Eastern Conference final, and that will surely impact their friendship.

Last year, when the Panthers and Bobrovsky headed to the Stanley Cup, Panarin admitted their contact was more limited though the Rangers had been ousted in Round 1.

“I wasn’t texting him in the beginning, but after they’d win a round we would talk to each other with the wives, family things,” Panarin said. “I tried to not bother him, but my hands were raised for him when he won and got to the Final.”

This time around, it’s quite different, especially when they talked after the first round.

“Just a how are you doing, how’s the team, but really I would say it was like three percent about hockey,” Panarin said.

Panarin then revealed how they will not talk again until the conference final is over, unless, of course, it’s on the ice. When thinking about the end of that series and the traditional handshake line, Panarin knows how different than any other this one will be.

“It’s kind of interesting to think about what we can talk about in the summer after, but in the game no one is thinking about it,” Panarin said. “He’s not thinking about me and I’m not thinking about him. I just try to score and he just try to save it.

“And since he’s a goalie, I don’t have to hit him.”

While no matter what the result is, this will be a significant step in their friendship, and though none of them will suffered physically at the hands of the other, one will be left heart-broken by the success and triumph of his best friend.

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