Blackhawks

Artem Anisimov adapting to Blackhawks' system

artemanisimovhawks.png

Artem Anisimov adapting to Blackhawks' system

Artem Anisimov went to Notre Dame already adjusting to plenty of changes.

He and his family had just settled in Chicago and his wife had given birth to their second child, a boy. Then it was off to camp with the Blackhawks, where it was new teammates and new systems.

“We’re not into structure yet, but I’m going to figure out later,” Anisimov said on one of his first days at training camp. “Maybe [it’s] going to take a while, maybe take less. We’ll see. We’ll see after the first preseason games how it’s going to be.”

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks drop preseason game as Kane saga takes wild turn]

Anisimov’s played just one preseason game thus far but the strides he’s made in his short time here were evident. Playing with Teuvo Teravainen and Patrick Kane, Anisimov looked comfortable in the Blackhawks’ preseason opener against the Detroit Red Wings.

“I thought his camp was ordinary until today,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Anisimov on Tuesday night. “I thought he progressed well. He looked big in the middle and had the puck a lot. We’ll see how that all progresses.”

When the Blackhawks acquired Anisimov as part of the deal that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus, they saw the 6-foot-4 Russian as the answer to their long-time, second-line center question.

“He’s a special player,” said Kane. “He’s big. He has a long reach, has long strides that get him up the ice pretty quickly. He can make good passes and [has] good puck possession too. I’m looking forward to getting some more opportunities playing with him and hopefully developing some chemistry pretty quickly.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the 2015-16 season, Blackhawks fans!]

Anisimov has also been helping fellow countryman Artemi Panarin adjust to the United States – “we just talk a lot, learn English a little bit and just play video games.” It reminded Anisimov of the help he got from former New York Rangers teammate Brandon Dubinsky when he first arrived in the U.S. several years ago.

“He was in the driver’s seat,” Anisimov said of Dubinsky. “He helped me learn English at the table during dinner.”

Anisimov is still learning, only this time it’s a new system. He’s got the center part of this down. It’s just a matter of doing what the Blackhawks want.

“I like him in the middle. I think there's a presence there,” Quenneville said. “He's a big guy and I think he's responsible both sides of the puck; he has abilities. He doesn't have a great idea exactly how we want to play our systems yet, but I think once we're technically sound as a team, I think he's one of those guys that likes structure.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

2-21_forsberg_usat.jpg
AP

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

2-21_senators_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?