The Blackhawks have certainly missed Artemi Panarin these last two games.
It’s no excuse for their two losses. But when you’re missing that offense, as well as the work he and fellow second liners Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane have done together this season, it’s a void even for a short amount of time.
And while Panarin didn’t practice with the team on Friday, there’s a chance he could play tomorrow night.
Panarin had an off-ice workout and could play on Saturday night when the Blackhawks face the Anaheim Ducks. Panarin has been out with an illness but coach Joel Quenneville said he was “encouraged” with how the left wing was feeling on Friday.
“He’s made good progress,” Quenneville said. “Hopefully at the same rate tomorrow, he’s playing.”
Corey Crawford will start vs. the Ducks.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
The Blackhawks went back to their battle drills at Friday’s practice. When those drills come out, it’s a clear sign that Quenneville wasn’t happy with their outing the previous night. The Blackhawks came on strong in the third period of their 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars, but were terrible in the first 20 minutes, when the Stars took a 4-0 lead.
“We were very slow out of the gate, basically two games in a row,” Quenneville said. “When we’re more competitive in the puck area, that’s how we’re effective. You can get the puck more that way as well and you can keep it longer. We were too easy to play against two games in a row. We had success before because we were hungrier and more competitive.”
Andrew Desjardins said it was tough to pinpoint why the Blackhawks were so off in their first two games of this home stand.
“I think the last two games, just the compete level, commitment to doing the right things,” he said. “It’s been good at times – in the third when we were coming back, but when a team’s holding a lead like that they may be sitting back more. It’s just that compete and intensity level. We just have to get mad and get a little more pissed off going into the next game. Our effort level can go up.”
The Blackhawks have been great at home this season, and their inability not to take advantage of these first two games was frustrating. They need to take advantage of the next two if they want to try and maintain their slim Central Division lead. The battle the Blackhawks showed in Friday’s practice has to be there from the start in Saturday’s game.
“I thought we played as good as we’ve played at any time all year in those three games [out of the All-Star break]. We were flat vs. San Jose and really poor last night. We’ve been pretty good at home. That was the thing we’re not pleased about: play the right way at home. We shouldn’t get blown out in the first period of an important game like that like [Thursday] night.”