Analysis

Blackhawks: Artemi Panarin Named NHL First Star of the Week

CHICAGO- The Chicago Blackhawks are sizzling right now, and so is Artemi Panarin who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week on Monday afternoon.

The Chicago Blackhawks have won five consecutive games, and have won five of six in the last 10 days. Artemi Panarin has been a big reason why, and on Monday afternoon he was honored as the NHL’s First Star of the Week.

Panarin, 25, went on a scoring binge last week, amassing three goals and seven assists for the Blackhawks. Panarin’s hot week helped the Blackhawks go undefeated against the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, with three of the four wins coming on the road.

The Breadman is having another stellar season for the Blackhawks, totaling 34 points to date in the 2016-2017 season. Panarin has 14 goals and 20 assists this season, and his 34 points leads the Blackhawks, with his goals and assists totals both second on the team respectively.

While Panarin has been red-hot this past week and is having another superb campaign, he isn’t the only Blackhawks player behind the teams NHL best 48 points. Marian Hossa, Scott Darling, Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov have all had excellent seasons thus far.

Darling has posted a 10-2-2 record over the course of 14 starts, with the majority of those starts coming in the most recent stretch of the schedule in place of Corey Crawford, who is recovering from an appendix removal procedure. Darling has stopped 404 of 436 shots on goal this season, good for a .927 save percentage and a 2.27 goals allowed per contest average.

Marian Hossa has apparently found the fountain of youth at age 36, recording a team-high 16 goals to date, with four of those goals coming as game-winning goals. Hossa also has seven assists, giving him 23 points on the year.

Artem Anisimov is having a career year for the Blackhawks, tied for second on the team in goals with 14 of them to go along with 13 assists. Six of Anisimov’s 14 goals have been game-winners, and the 32-year-old forward has lit the lamp three times on the power play for the Hawks’.

Patrick Kane has had a solid season as well, even with the goals being down from last year’s Hart Trophy performance. Kane has 10 goals, 22 assists and 32 points to date. The Blackhawks are also benefitting from some unexpected performances from their younger players like Vinnie Hinostroza, Ryan Hartman and Tyler Motte.

The three youngsters have combined for 12 goals, 12 assists and 24 points through the Blackhawks first 34 games. Outside of the scoring efforts, Ryan Hartman has been extremely poised under fire this season, drawing penalties against opponents and creating extra scoring chances for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are producing at or above the league average in a heaping amount of statistical categories including; points percentage, goals for, goals against, power play goals, power play opportunities, shots on goal, shooting percentage, goals allowed and save percentage.

The Blackhawks are certainly riding high right now, sitting atop the NHL standings and gaining ground in front of their Western Conference opponents with their recent hot-streak, but can they sustain it? If their December performance is any indication, they will be more than fine down the stretch, with December usually being one of the busier months in the NHL schedule. Coach Joel Quenneville had this to say about the Blackhawks December success,

“We’re just finding a way to play the right way,” Quenneville said. “You try to make sure when it’s time to press with your best, you do it, and sometimes you have to be aware when there’s a little more balance. But you’re in that game to win it and you have to play it accordingly.”

December has treated the Blackhawks very well, almost like a month-long Holiday celebration, posting a 7-2-1 record. The Hawks’ have outscored their December opponents 30-20, and accumulated 15 points, with five games remaining before the clock strikes twelve on 2016.

While it will be difficult to maintain the league’s top point total for the duration of the season, I don’t see any reason, outside of injury of course, why the Blackhawks would relinquish their lead in the Central Division or even the Western Conference for that matter. The Blackhawks rank fourth in the NHL in scoring with 98 goals through their first 34 games. The defense has been nearly as good, allowing 80 goals to date, good for tenth in the NHL.

The sizzling Blackhawks (22-8-4) will look to keep their winning ways rolling Tuesday night when they host the Ottawa Senators (18-11-3) at the United Center. The Blackhawks could have Artem Anisimov back in the lineup tonight after he sat out the Blackhawks last contest with an upper-body injury. Puck-drop at the United Center is set for 7:30 PM (CT), catch the action on CSN-Chicago (TV) and 720AM-WGN (Radio).

 

 

 

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