Blackhawks

Artem Anisimov settling in with Blackhawks

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Artem Anisimov settling in with Blackhawks

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.

[MORE: Top-line auditions continue for Blackhawks]

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.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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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?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: