Artemi Panarin shines in regular season debut with Blackhawks


Artemi Panarin shines in regular season debut with Blackhawks

It didn't take long for Artemi Panarin to officially introduce himself to Chicago.

With the Blackhawks trailing 1-0 towards the latter stages of the first period Wednesday night, Patrick Kane chased down a puck in the offensive zone and found a striding Panarin, who was wide open in the slot and buried home his first career NHL goal against one of the league's best goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist.

“Emotions were kind of over the top," said Panarin, through teammate and unofficial translator Viktor Tikhonov, following the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers. "I’m trying to remember the reactions of the crowd. Kind of got overwhelmed, couldn’t hear anything. I was really happy."

[MORE: Blackhawks banner raising night spoiled by Rangers]

So was Kane, who already realizes he has the luxury of playing on the same line as the skilled Panarin and gushed over the 23-year-old's performance in his regular season debut.

"He's a special player. He's electric," Kane said. "It was nice to see him get his first goal. ... I think once he gets accustomed to the NHL game, smaller ice surface, playing with some different linemates and some different players, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with."

Coach Joel Quenneville didn't go that far in assessing Panarin's play, but he didn't need to. A sold-out United Center of 22,104 saw the same thing as Kane and Quenneville.

"Panarin was fun to watch tonight," Quenneville said. "We call him the Bread Man. Looked like he had the puck all night. ... It was a good start for him."

This isn't the first time Panarin has caught people's attention.

[RELATED: Artemi Panarin locks in first goal of 2015-16 season]

In his preseason debut, he quickly showed the Blackhawks what he's capable of after recording two assists and displaying an incredible ability to stick handle after dancing around several defensemen. Marian Hossa said after that game Panarin is "so slick, and we’ll see a lot of this from him.”

That didn't take long.

Surely, there will be growing pains throughout the season but Panarin didn't show any in his debut.

For the second straight game — albeit the first in the final preseason game — Panarin continued to show great chemistry with Kane and Artem Anisimov, generating multiple scoring chances on Wednesday.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Quenneville called it the best line of the night, and nobody would disagree.

Just ask Rangers goaltender Lundqvist, who had to defend it.

"That line with Anisimov, Kane and that young guy," Lundqvist said, "I can't pronounce his name, but they looked really good."

Players may not know Panarin's name now, but they will soon.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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?


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: