Blackhawks

All the feels: Patrick Kane reflects on chemistry with Artemi Panarin

kanepanarin.jpg
USA TODAY

All the feels: Patrick Kane reflects on chemistry with Artemi Panarin

Patrick Kane watched on Friday night. Of course he did. It was Artemi Panarin’s Columbus Blue Jackets regular-season debut and Kane had to see what his former former linemate did.

Not surprisingly, it was a pretty good night for the Russian left wing.

“He looks like he normally does, smooth with the puck, very smooth carrying it up the ice,” Kane said. “Nothing new for him.”

There’s no doubt Kane still misses Panarin, with whom he had an undeniable chemistry from the start. They clicked as well off the ice, too, getting through the language barrier with a little help from Google translate. After being part of different combinations for a number of years Kane had line stability for two consecutive seasons. So yeah, he’s a little sentimental about that whole stable setup with him, Panarin and Artem Anisimov.

“It’s kind of, I guess, fun to look back. Maybe even a little sad to look back at the chemistry we had. But obviously time’s moved on now and you gotta adjust to certain players and make it with new linemates,” Kane said. “But for first game our team was pretty good.”

Whether or not Kane finds the same longstanding chemistry with Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman remains to be seen but, entering Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets, it’s off to a tremendous start. Kane benefitted from Schmaltz’s speed the way he used to Panarin’s creativity, the two clicking after working together for part of the summer and most of the preseason. And with Hartman providing the net-front presence Anisimov did the past two seasons, the production was there.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with Kane waxing sentimental on Panarin. It was a hell of a line to watch the past two seasons. Considering the Blue Jackets played on Friday, Kane probably won’t see Panarin until warmups on Saturday night. Maybe there’ll be some chatter, perhaps some chirping. Or maybe it’ll be simpler — “maybe even just looking at him or something like that.”

Kane, Schmaltz and Hartman had a good first game and there’s a chance the three could have a long, prosperous season together. Kane appreciated having two seasons’ worth of that with Panarin.

“He’s a really good kid, fun to get along with. We had plenty of battles on the bench where we were mad at each other but I think that’s a sign of a healthy relationship,” Kane said. “He was fun to have around.”

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

patrick_sharp.jpg
USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night:
 
1. Nick Schmaltz returns but sizzle doesn’t.

You didn’t expect the fireworks of the season opener but you figured Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane would connect pretty quickly again. The speed was certainly there. The connections on passes were not. It wasn’t just that second line, though: it was another night on which the Blackhawks’ offense was sluggish. 
 
2. Tripping along.

I joked that tripping is the new slashing. Maybe that’s not the case league-wide but it was for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks took five tripping penalties overall, including three in the first period. It was a clear sign that the Blackhawks were trying to play catch-up all night, and they didn’t fare well at it.
 
3. Power play gets something but…

It took until late in the third period (when the Blackhawks’ offense seems to get going lately). The Blackhawks got two late power-play goals, a reminder of what they can do when they battle for the puck and show some spark.

“Our sense of urgency in the puck area, be it 5-on-5 or on the power play, that’s the differential of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and making plays off it is one of our strengths,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t do that very often and we haven’t won many battles.”
 
4. Starting slow.

Why these are happening is a mystery, and they’ve been most evident in the Blackhawks’ last three games, which have all come against division opponents. Too much relying on Corey Crawford again and not much in terms of shots, be it quality or quantity through the first two periods. The Blackhawks were outshot 17-8 through the first 40 minutes on Wednesday. While they created little they gave up way too much.
 
5. Patrick Sharp OK?

Sharp was injured late on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks-Blues game got chippy in the final five-plus minutes. Quenneville thought Sharp was fine but he wasn’t positive at the time of his postgame press conference.

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks’ first tripping came barely a minute into the game. Then came another one. And another. And another. And another. Despite welcoming one of their fastest players back into the lineup, the Blackhawks were overall flat-footed and playing catch-up all night, be it on the ice or on the scoreboard, to the St. Louis Blues.

Nick Schmaltz returned but the effect on the second line and the Blackhawks overall wasn’t immediate. Instead the Blackhawks looked sluggish. Their offensive opportunities were few – a one and done here and there but no sustained zone time or pressure on Blues goaltender Jake Allen – their passing was off and they were on the defensive all night.

And then there were the tripping penalties. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill held up through it, nullifying all five Blues power-play opportunities. But the Blues found other ways to inflict their damage.

“They played well and we were brutal,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was a bad start, a bad middle and even [though] it was a little excited at the end it wasn’t very good. That’s as close to brutal as you can get.”

The Blackhawks’ last three games have common themes: they’re outshot for a good part of the game, they’re giving up a good amount of quality shots and then the urgency hits them midway through the third period. For the third consecutive contest the Blackhawks scored two goals late and in two of those three games it wasn’t nearly enough.

“Obviously it wasn’t good enough for two periods. If you take any positives out of this game, it’s the way we played in the third,” Patrick Kane said. “At least we know we can do it. Just gotta do it before our backs are against the wall.”

Why it’s taking the Blackhawks so long to get going, however, is the question. Obviously the Blackhawks’ late third-period pushes show how capable they are of producing when necessary. Said Alex DeBrincat, who assisted on Ryan Hartman’s goal late in regulation, “If we’re would’ve been crashing the net like that all game it may have been a different story.”

But they didn’t. The Blackhawks welcomed back a teammate that’s injected speed into their lineup but the team was once again stumbling out of the gate.

“We’re supposed to be out there, giving our all every minute we’re out there and every shift, go out there and take it a shift at a time and give it all you got every shift,” Hartman said. “We have four lines that can roll so there’s no excuse for not going out there and putting all your energy out there for a shift and getting ready for the next one.”