Blackhawks

Artem Anisimov set to return for Blackhawks in Game 1 vs. Predators

Artem Anisimov set to return for Blackhawks in Game 1 vs. Predators

It was frustrating for Artem Anisimov to miss the final month of the regular season. The second-line center was at the top of his game when he suffered an injury to his left leg in Montreal on March 14.

Still, there are silver linings to everything; in Anisimov’s case, it’s being ready for the postseason, which it appears he will be.

“I was happy about this news and I started getting ready for the playoffs. The staff did a tremendous job with conditioning for me and I’m ready to play,” Anisimov said on Tuesday. “Get ready for the first game, and here I am.”

Anisimov will be back, as will Niklas Hjalmarsson, when the Blackhawks begin their first-round series against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. Anisimov has been skating for about a week now, and he doesn’t foresee any limitations with his game – “I’m going to continue to go to the net and play hard every shift and do all my stuff,” he said.

Coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t foresee any issues, either.

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“He looked good, handled everything well. He said he felt good conditioning-wise and health-wise, so all good,” Quenneville said of Anisimov’s practice on Tuesday, his first since sustaining his injury.

“Arty does a lot of things for you. Special teams, both units. Faceoffs, that line, big minutes, matchups and predictability defensively, and offensively getting to the net. So he knows his role and does it very well,” Quenneville continued. “He really adds something to our lineup because he's so useful in ways, and that's an important spot for us. It's good to (see him) back.”

The line did well in Anisimov’s absence, with Tanner Kero centering Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin for a majority of those games. But the chemistry between the two wings and Anisimov has always been strong, and it should be rekindled quickly.

“It was good to see him back on the ice,” Kane said. “We know he hasn’t played in a while, so I think for us just keep it simple and for him, he does a lot of simple things on the ice anyways. So, it’ll be good to get him going back to the front of the net, and hopefully we’ll be shooting pucks there and get some bounces. But it’s great to have him back. Obviously we missed him, and it’ll be huge going down the stretch here to have him in the lineup.”

There will probably be a little rust, regardless of how good Anisimov feels. Game action hard to replicate in a practice and conditioning work, let alone playoff game action. But Anisimov feels great, and whatever rust there will be, he expects to shed it relatively fast.

“It’s a little bit of pressure. I think after the first shift it’s going to go away,” Anisimov said. “It’s going to be the feeling of the game again and it’ll come back after the first shift.”

Briefly:

  • Niklas Hjalmarsson also returned to practice on Tuesday. He and his wife welcomed their second child a few days ago.
     
  • Michal Rozsival, who was injured when Anaheim forward Nick Ritchie punched him in last Thursday’s game against the Ducks, underwent surgery to repair facial fractures on Tuesday. Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement, “surgery went well and he is expected to make a full recovery.”
  • Andrew Desjardins is still day-to-day with a lower-body injury sustained against the Ducks.

All-female crew to broadcast and produce Blackhawks-Blues coverage on March 8

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USA TODAY

All-female crew to broadcast and produce Blackhawks-Blues coverage on March 8

On Sunday, NBC Sports announced an all-female crew will broadcast and produce coverage for March 8's Blackhawks vs. Blues contest at the United Center.

The broadcast will coincide with International Women’s Day and mark the first NHL game broadcast and produced solely by women in the U.S.

Kate Scott will handle play-by-play duties, U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne-Schofield will serve as the "inside the glass" analyst and AJ Mleczko - also a gold medalist with the U.S. - will work as an analyst from the game in Chicago. 

Back in the studio, Kathryn Tappen will anchor with three-time Canadian Olympic gold medalist Jen Botterill on hand. Producer Rene Hatlelid and director Lisa Seltzer will lead game production.

From NBC Sports' release:

"The first-of-its-kind broadcast will be in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, which dates back over 100 years. Throughout the broadcast there will be nods to those who have made their mark on women’s hockey, and sports in general, with the hopes to inspire future generations of women to excel on the ice and behind the scenes."

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Snake-bitten Blackhawks light the lamp Saturday

Snake-bitten Blackhawks light the lamp Saturday

Three unlikely heroes emerged in Calgary on Saturday night to help the Blackhawks find some footing near the end of their five-game road trip (currently 1-3-0) that wraps up Sunday in Winnipeg.

Blackhawks rookie center Kirby Dach hadn't scored a goal in six games; Alex DeBrincat had one marker in his last nine after finishing last season with 41; Alex Nylander had one goal in his past 17 contests.

The trio bounced back against the Flames to help the Hawks to an 8-4 victory.

Nylander scored twice, and DeBrincat and Dach each had a goal.

"It’s a learning process for us that [haven't] been through this," Nylander said after the game. "And we are lucky that we have these vets that are on our team that can help us and see that something like this in the season happens."

Related: Blackhawks' offense explodes in Calgary

Of all the Hawks who have gone cold this season, the most surprising was DeBrincat, who posted 41 goals last season and 28 as a rookie the year prior.

"I've been fighting with the puck a little bit too much," he said. "Even today, I didn't really play that well, but finally got rewarded."

Six points out of a playoff spot, having the three forwards off the schneid could be a big factor in the Hawks putting a streak together to keep their playoff hopes alive.

"Those guys, they have the ability to chip in for us offensively and if they can do that it's going to make a big difference for us," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the three. "Ultimately, it comes down to their work ethic away from the puck."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews felt Dach, DeBrincat and Nylander gave the Hawks a much-needed lift on Saturday.

"For guys like that and the way they think, the way they play the game, their skillset, scoring goals gives you a ton of energy, it gives you a lift," Toews said. "It's nice to see them get a few and see a few pucks go in.

"I think even if you're just on the ice, you have nothing to do with the play, just to be around goals is infectious. So it's nice to see those guys make those plays as a result of their hard work and it's an incentive to keep doing the same thing."

Hopefully the goal infection spreads for the Hawks. Despite being six points out of the playoffs, Chicago has three games in hand on the Arizona Coyotes, who occupy the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

With 24 games remaining, scoring contributions will have to come from across the board for the Blackhawks to go on a successful run to secure a playoff spot.

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