Blackhawks excited about Artemi Panarin's 'special ability'


Blackhawks excited about Artemi Panarin's 'special ability'

He’s not here for the Blackhawks convention. Not many on this side of the pond have seen him, unless they’ve watched his game highlights on YouTube.

Nevertheless, he’s been a big topic of discussion – and anticipation – this weekend.

Artemi Panarin hasn’t suited up for the Blackhawks in any fashion yet and won’t until they convene for training camp in September. But many are already talking about the Russian forward and the impact he could make with the Blackhawks.

“All the Blackhawks fans are going to absolutely love him, just love watching him,” said Viktor Tikhonov. “He’s always wanted to come over; he just didn’t know if he was ready. And just seeing him and how fast he’s developing, he was one of the best players in the KHL this year. It was the right move for him to make the jump.”

Tikhonov would know, as he and Panarin played together with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League. Last season Panarin recorded 26 goals and 36 assists for St.Petersburg, which won the Gagarin Cup. The 23-year-old signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Blackhawks in April.

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Panarin has plenty of potential. And with that come expectations. What could he do with the Blackhawks? And will that expected great play come right away? The same questions came with Teuvo Teravainen when he arrived on the scene two seasons ago. And just like with Teravainen, general manager Stan Bowman said everyone has to give Panarin time.

“We’re trying to be patient with the expectations because he’s coming to a new country, learning the language. Everything is new to him,” Bowman said during a convention session on Saturday. “I always try to tell people, imagine you go to Russia and you’re expected to just jump in to a new culture and be a superstar right away. There will be a little adjustment there but he has special ability. It’s fun to think of the possibilities there.”

The Blackhawks found out with Teravainen that, once you’re comfortable in your new country and with your new surroundings, be it on and off the ice, great things can happen. It should also help Panarin that the Blackhawks have several Russians on the team this season, including Tikhonov and Artem Anisimov.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Panarin’s acclimation to the Blackhawks begins this fall. He’ll have a lot to take in, from what he learns on the ice to life off it. It’ll take time. Everyone will have to tap the brakes. But the possibilities nevertheless have the Blackhawks talking.

“I think one of the things about that kid is he put up the same numbers as [Ilya] Kovalchuk in the KHL, and we know how Kovalchuk was over here. It’s pretty scary what could happen if he pans out the way everyone expects him to,” Patrick Kane said. “I haven’t seen him play; I’ve just seen a couple of highlights. I’m definitely looking forward to watching him in training camp.”

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

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

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?