The Blackhawks ended their preseason slate against the Dallas Stars on Saturday. The United Center welcomed home two former Blackhawks in Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya. The trading of Sharp and not re-signing Oduya ended that era of Blackhawks hockey.
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A new era of Blackhawks hockey is about to begin, with young stars joining the core of Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Last night was the Blackhawks debut for Artemi Panarin. Panarin was the biggest “free agent” signing the Blackhawks made in the offseason. The “Russian Patrick Kane” did not disappoint in his debut; instead he created such a buzz with his play that, in one day, the hype has reached a fever pitch.
Panarin dazzled fans and the Dallas Stars with his stickhandling skills.
The line of Kane, Artem Anisimov and Panarin produced two goals for the night. Panarin had the primary assists on the Blackhawks’ first two goals of the night. Coach Joel Quenneville might have found his second line for the foreseeable future. That is, until the Q blender comes out. In 15:29 of ice time, Panarin has two assists, three shots and was a plus-1. He was also the second star of the game behind Hossa. Hossa had two goals in the 4-0 victory.
If you thought the hype around Panarin was high before his first preseason action, imagine how high it is now. Sports writers and fans are going wild over his play last night.
Panarin is no stranger to playing with elite wingers, having played with Ilya Kovalchuk in the KHL. Let’s also not forget that Panarin outscored Kovalchuk with St. Petersburg SKA for the season.
At the Blackhawks Convention, General Manager Stan Bowman tried to put the Panarin hype into perspective. He stated that Blackhawks fans need to be patient with his play, that he is coming to a new country and playing a new style of hockey. I thought there would be an adjustment period similar to what Teuvo Teravainen endured two seasons ago. It appears the adjustment period might be over already.
When we signed Panarin, I was cautiously optimistic about his play translating to the NHL right away. Now I am giddy with excitement over the Panarin. I am sure his linemates Anisimov and Kane are excited, too.
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Oct 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; A general shot of the Stanley Cup banners prior to a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Islanders at the United Center. Chicago won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports