Chicago, IL — We are early in the 2015 Chicago Blackhawks season which so far has been filled with inconsistencies, there is however one thing that has been consistent and that is the second line of Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov & Artemi Panarin.
Not only is this line responsible so far for the majority of the Hawks offensive points but they are from a fans perspective flat-out fun to watch. They are entertainment of the highest order and are must watch appointment hockey viewing.
Even if you are not a Blackhawks fan you have to watch this line and appreciate the skill and chemistry they have.
There also seems to be emerging a special bond between Kane and Panarin. Even though they may come from worlds away they seem to be kindred spirits in several aspects. They see the game the same way on the ice and their skills are similar and compliment each other.
The stick work, passing and as Kane has said of Panarin the edge work in his skating is unreal. Their hands are so quick they are like magicians.
Even though both grew up thousands of miles away they were both told early in their playing careers they were too small to play high level competitive hockey and maybe that is another reason why they have bonded so quickly as they both universally understand without language what the other has had to go through to get where they are.
They both understand the struggle to overcome other’s incorrect perceptions based on size. Now the NHL is changing and sees the values of skill and skating but traditionally size was always thought to have been needed to make it to the NHL and I suspect the KHL was not different in this regard.
The uncanny thing as well with Showtime and the Breadman is they are like mirror images of each other. One is a lefty that plays Right Wing and the other is a righty playing Left Wing so they literally are mirror images.
What is also funny is how their personalities also seem to mirror each other. Kane has already stated that Panarin is funny and has the one liners down and Kane is no slouch himself to chirps and one liners.
They also seem to have overcome any language barriers and found ways to communicate in what I call PanKan or KanPan speak.
Not sure if that is half English half Russian or hand gestures or telepathy, whatever it is as long as they understand each other who cares. The two just seem to be in sympatico both on and off the ice.
They also share an on ice creativity & an understanding of what it takes to be not just a great athlete but an entertainer. Both Kane and Panarin seem to understand that sports are fun and people go to see their unique special skills. I can not think of a city or a team that can better showcase & appreciate these talents.
There is no question though the glue in the middle Artem Anisimov gels this line. For years the Hawks have searched for the right second line center and even though it took losing a great young winger in Brandon Saad it appears to have been well worth it.
Anisimov brings size and grit and grind to balance the line with two masters of prestidigitation on his sides. Make no mistake without Anisimov battling along the boards or providing net front presance Kane and Panarin would not be as successful.
This line has a chance this year to accomplish special things both for the team and for each other. If they continue meshing and creating magic it’s possible that Artemi Panarin could win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
Patrick Kane could win points leader trophy Art Ross and possibly league MVP honor Hart Memorial trophy which he was on pace for consideration last year until his clavicle injury derailed that.
And for Anisimov he could be on pace for having the best year of his career and could put up the most points he has had offensively.
He was asked by Chicago media had he ever had instant chemistry with linemates like this and he said only twice before with his National team and during lock out back in Russia. See below interview taken from Blackhawks website:
Currently the three are in top four on the team in points with only Brent Seabrook in between. Patrick Kane leads followed by Artemi Panarin and in fourth on the team is Artem Anisimov.
The other thing which probably surprises some is the line is very good defensively as well. Their =/- numbers are pretty good for a supposedly offensive line. In fact Patrick Kane leads the team in +/- with 13 which is a testament to his dedication to the 200 ft. game.
The one thing though I bet all three would agree on is they all would forego individual accolades for another Stanley Cup. It would be great for Anisimov and Panarin to get their names on a Stanley Cup. For Kane more so than any other year I think he wants to prove what he is all about.
Most people do not think of Kane as a leader but he is. He told his linemates from the beginning if they wanted to stay together they had to play the right way and not let up and keep contributing. They were separated when Hossa went down and Panarin was moved to Toews line. Now they are reunited and they have not looked back.
In fact that line has such chemistry that coach Q is using the entire line on the power play in tact with Keith and Seabrook. You know your line is on fire when the entire line is being used on the power play.
Bringing in both Anisimov and Panarin again makes Stan Bowman look like a genius but for different reasons. Getting Anisimov in return for Saad in a tough situation was absolutely the best possible return for the Blackhawks probably better than anyone including Bowman could have hoped for.
Getting Panarin makes the Blackhawks scouting staffs look brilliant. How, and I do mean how, did other teams not all flock to get this kid? Bowman did have a couple of advantages. I’m sure being champions the past 3 out of 6 years didn’t hurt nor being able to have him play with players like Kane didn’t hurt either.
Panarin also has stated Barry Smith sold him with what the Hawks are about and lets face it the style of hockey the Hawks play is flat-out sexy for a skilled offensive talent which also I’m sure sold 72.
As a fan there was all kinds of chatter if Panarin could make the jump from the KHL to the NHL mostly from other fan bases.
I really didn’t think that would be a problem as I saw his skills similar to Patrick Kane and we see how successful he is so I never thought that would be a problem. He has adjusted though quicker and better than I thought. It also helps he is with Kane and Anisimov to assist him if he has questions.
I’ve stated in previous blogs Panarin has the “IT” factor like Kane. He also seems to have something else like Kane, the desire to prove his detractors wrong which is a powerful motivator.
Panarin and Kane share that as well and can help each other. They both seem to get more fueled and determined if you tell them they can’t do something which also bonds them.
Blackhawks fans have fallen in love with both Anisimov and Panarin and are very happy they are now both in Chicago. Finally Patrick Kane has a line with line mates that can keep up with him and compliment each other. They really do all seem to be made for each other.
What this line can accomplish and how far this line can go in achievements will be fun to watch this year.
I’m greedy I want another Stanley Cup, a Calder, a Art Ross & Hart Trophy. The best thing is I have a feeling these three guys will do everything in their powers to achieve this as well.
They may not succeed in getting all of those things but then again would you bet against them?