Artemi Panarin is almost bashful about leading all NHL rookies in assists with eight. After all, he’s six years older than Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and five years older than Buffalo’s Jack Eichel.
“I just turned 24 [on Friday],” Panarin said through interpreter Viktor Tikhonov. “So I don’t know if I’m exactly a rookie. I’m not really thinking about it. It’s time to show results.”
Panarin has been so impressive that Joel Quenneville is turning to him to play on the top line Monday against the red-hot Los Angeles Kings, with Marian Hossa unlikely to play because of a lower-body injury. The line of Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane has basically carried the Hawks’ sputtering offense all season, but Quenneville wants to spread the wealth a little bit. At Sunday’s practice, he had Panarin on the left wing with Jonathan Toews and Ryan Garbutt.
“Over the course of a season, we envisioned Jonny and him playing together at some point,” Quenneville said. “Hopefully, that can work. We haven’t seen any other lines score all year. Hopefully we can share the wealth on the production side of thing. Hopefully, we can become more balanced in our scoring.”
Panarin wasn’t too concerned about breaking up a line that was working so well.
“There’s a lot of good guys that are easy to play with,” he said. “It’s not a completely different game. But with Kane, we have a little bit of a different style. Obviously, with Toews, it’s going to be a little different.”
Teuvo Teravainen, who has one goal in his last nine games, moved up to Panarin’s usual spot on the second line.
As for Hossa, he was at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Sunday, but did not practice. He had no noticeable limp as he walked around the facility. Assuming he does miss Monday’s game, Quenneville didn’t expect him to be out much longer.
“We don’t think it’s serious,” he said.