Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line off to strong start for Blackhawks
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The combination of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane doesn’t have much of a nickname yet. What it does have is universal acclaim.
Three games into the season, that line has been the Blackhawks’ most effective. Kane leads the Hawks with six points, Panarin is second with four and Anisimov has used his big body and skill to mesh with his two smaller linemates.
They were especially effective Saturday. The trio was on the ice for the Hawks’ three even-strength goals, the last coming from Kane – thanks in part to an Anisimov screen – after a lengthy and impressive cycle in the New York Islanders’ zone.
“The one line that’s been pretty amazing to watch. (Saturday), we’ll call it Arty’s line,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Very, very effective.”
That’s despite having little time together before the season. Panarin missed most of training camp with an upper-body injury and only played in the final preseason game.
So far, it hasn’t mattered.
“They’ve been fun to watch. Special plays and special players,” Quenneville said. “Puck possession is what we try to instill or reinforce and these guys know how to protect it, know instinctually (and) anticipate where one another can be or will be or are.”
Their teammates have noticed as well. And benefited.
“They’ve been playing so well together. It seems like every time they’re on the ice they’ve got it in the offensive zone just making stuff happen,” said Trevor van Riemsdyk, whose first-period goal Saturday was assisted by Kane and Panarin. “When that’s going on, as a d-man you’re just trying to make room for them and let them operate and do their thing.”
For now, Quenneville is doing that.
Though he’s still looking for somebody to fill the “lottery” spot with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa – Quenneville said they’d settle on something soon – his most second line could have some staying power.
And that’s with Kane and Panarin still getting used to each other.
“I think the upside’s still… I don’t think it’s on tap right now,” Quenneville said. “But certainly been fun to watch.”