Artem Anisimov is just about settled in Chicago.
He’s got a place here. And his family, still in Columbus right now, will join him here in about a week. To know his wife and two children – his second child was born in September – are on their way means a lot to the Blackhawks center.
“I miss them,” he said on Saturday. “It’s big; family is big for me. I’m happy when they’re around me.”
Meanwhile, Anisimov is settling in just fine with his Blackhawks family. Acquired as part of the trade that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus, Anisimov is the man the Blackhawks hope end their second-line center questions for the next few seasons. Thus far Anisimov, who signed a five-year, $22.75 million contract with the Blackhawks in July, is filling that role well.
Anisimov is centering a dynamic and, so far very successful, second line with Patrick Kane and fellow Russian Artemi Panarin. He scored his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform on Friday night, a short-handed goal in what ended up being a 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Islanders. It was also the first regular-season goal scored in Barclays Center, the Islanders’ new home.
Anisimov’s penalty killing ability helps fill a void, too – both Saad and Johnny Oduya, who signed with the Dallas Stars, were both key parts of the Blackhawks’ kill. Coach Joel Quenneville said Anisimov has been a great addition thus far.
“He scored a huge shorthanded goal for us [on Friday]. He’s reading off two guys who are highly skilled and he gets to the front of the net as well offensively,” Quenneville said. “Down low it looks like he knows how to play, so I think it’s been a good start for him.”
The chemistry with Anisimov, Panarin and Kane was fairly instantaneous.
“We’re comfortable with each other and just play the game on the ice and just see, just pass or shoot the puck,” he said. “We move the puck quickly in the offensive zone and just play the game.”
Anisimov isn’t surprised the 23-year-old Panarin is off to a good start in the NHL – Panarin has two goals and two assists in his first three games. But Anisimov said Panarin hasn’t really hit his stride yet.
“He’s good, but it’s not his best hockey he’s showing right now,” said Anisimov, who has also helped explain to Panarin in Russian any instructions the Blackhawks coaches give him. “He needs a little bit of time to adjust to this style of hockey. And when he adjusts, he’s going to show his true skill.”
Anisimov’s family will join him in Chicago in about a week. That will make him happier and more comfortable off the ice. He’s already in a good place on the ice.
“I’ve played [three] games and it’s more and more comfortable,” Anisimov said. “When I play games, I get more comfortable.”