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Red-hot Artem Anisimov happy to be reunited with Patrick Kane

SUNRISE, Fla. — Nearly every day this month, Artem Anisimov has been asked if he’ll keep his “Movember” mustache into December given his hot streak. And while the joke question is getting old, Anisimov is more than happy to keep getting it — because it means he’s still scoring.

“Not sick of it at all,” he said with a laugh.

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Entering Saturday’s game against the Panthers, Anisimov had nine goals and two assists in his last 11 games. Reunited with Patrick Kane, Anisimov has found his game again after floundering through most of October on the third line. He had one goal and one assist in the first 10 games of the season.

Artem Anisimov (right) had a hat trick against the Rangers last week. (AP Photo)

Anisimov — like so many of his scuffling teammates are now — said repeatedly in October that once he got a goal or two, the floodgates would open. He was right.

“Confidence is the most important thing in hockey,” Anisimov said. “If you’re getting that confidence, you try to keep it going as long as you can. It was hard, but I wasn’t doubting myself. The game was just not coming my way, my timing was off, and the puck was always not finding me.”

Anisimov’s return to the second line has helped Kane, too. Many centers struggle to play with Kane, because he dominates the puck from the wing. But Anisimov scored 42 goals over the past two seasons while centering Kane and Artemi Panarin. He doesn’t mind deferring to the winger and focusing on his defensive responsibilities at one end, and crashing the net at the other.

“I know how he plays, I know what to expect from him, and we just clicked right away,” Anisimov said. “Everybody wants to play with the puck. But I try to create space for him and be close to him when he has time and space. Sometimes two guys go to him, and then he can find me because I have open ice. It just works.”

Joel Quenneville noted that most of Anisimov’s goals have come within a few feet of the crease.

“He’s at the net,” Quenneville said. “With the two guys he’s playing with, the puck’s generally going to end up there. That’s where the rewards are.”

On the road again
Lockout seasons aside, the Hawks haven’t been home for Thanksgiving in more than 40 seasons. Typically, this weekend has been the end of a two-week jaunt through Western Canada and California. This year, it was just the end of a quick two-game trip to Florida that just happened to come during Thanksgiving week.

And while Patrick Kane was glad to spend a rare birthday at home last week, the Hawks actually kind of miss their monster roadie.

“You think about it now, it would have been nice to have the almost two-week trip [because] you get a lot of road games out of the way, and then the travel isn’t as bad [the rest of the season],” Kane said. “The circus trip’s always fun because you spend a lot of time with the guys, and it’s early on in the season, and you’ve got a new team and everyone’s still trying to get to know each other a little bit. Looking back on it, it was always a fun trip. I can look back on a lot of those trips and it seems like it’s where we really took off as a team. … You have those trips and all of sudden you’re ahead of the pack and you have a lot of home games left.”

Roster report
Tanner Kero was a scratch for the 12th time in the last 14 games. Michal Kempny was a scratch for the sixth time in seven games, and Jordan Oesterle for the 11th time in 12 games. Even with five games in seven days coming up, Quenneville wouldn’t commit to working them into the lineup, or bringing up Vinnie Hinostroza, who has 18 points in 19 games for Rockford.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus
Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com