Blackhawks notes: Artem Anisimov progressing, Brandon Saad shining and more
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Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov feels like he’s going full speed, and while he wasn’t on the ice Sunday against the Sharks, it shouldn’t be much longer.
He has been on injured reserve since entering the NHL’s concussion protocol after a hit by Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber a week ago. He was put on the list retroactive to Dec. 9, but the minimum seven days on IR did not start counting until the next day.
He’s eligible to be activated before the Hawks’ home game Tuesday against the Predators if he’s cleared medically.
“He looks like he’s closer to coming back, so hopefully he can,” coach Jeremy Colliton said at the morning skate. “I haven’t heard that he’s ready, but we think he’s not far away.”
The game Sunday was the fourth Anisimov has missed, and his absence has been significant. He’s sixth on the team with 15 points and had played in every game before going down, averaging about 16 minutes.
He appeared to be a full participant in the morning skate and has maintained his conditioning at a level that should allow him to jump back in relatively easily.
“I work out and skate and practice . . . I think I’m fine,” Anisimov said.
After hosting the Predators, the Hawks have a back-to-back at Dallas and Colorado starting Thursday.
Regardless of any disconnect there might have been between Brandon Saad and former coach Joel Quenneville, his production is up since Colliton took over.
In the victory against the Penguins and the overtime loss to the Jets, Saad totaled a goal and three assists, giving him 13 points in an average of 18:34 on the ice under Colliton. In the 15 games with Quenneville, he played just over 17 minutes per game and had seven points.
He has been playing with Jonathan Toews and rookie Dominik Kahun lately, which looks like a promising combination.
“When [Saad is] going, he’s so hard on the puck,” Colliton said. “It’s really difficult to get it off him. He can take guys on one-on-one and take it to the net. Him and Toews have that quality to them, so it makes them a pretty tough line to play against.”
Colliton added that he and Saad have been compatible philosophically throughout his month-plus in charge.
“He’s very coachable, loves the feedback,” Colliton said. “He’s willing to pay the price to win. It’s fun to coach guys like that.”
Speaking of Kahun, he caught Colliton’s attention in the last week. He did not have a point in the previous two games but was a plus-3 in 29 minutes.
“It’s an adjustment to the league, and it’s not easy to score goals,” Colliton said. “I think he’s made a lot of plays. They just haven’t ended up in the net. But the big thing for me is he’s showing he can play against the top lines. It’s a nice thing to have in our lineup.”