4. Artemi Panarin Suffers Slow Start
Jan 6, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Pucks lie in the crease and net before the game between the Arizona Coyotes and the St. Louis Blues at Gila River Arena. The Blues won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Just like Daley with Oduya, Artemi Panarin is tasked with the tall order of filling in for the departed Patrick Sharp. Though Panarin is off to a hot start, with a great showing in his first (and only) pre-season game, Panarin is still largely unproven, as he missed most of the pre-season, and training camp, with an injury. Panarin showed instant chemistry with Patrick Kane in their only game together thus far, and as many hope, this could be very good for the Blackhawks’ 1-2 forward punch, as they commandeer the second line.
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If Panarin is unable to find a fit in the lineup, however, he could be left in a situation where he lacks chemistry in the top six, and is too skilled for the bottom-six. This could make a real headache for Joel Quenneville, with the lineup needing a major reshuffling, something that hasn’t happened in Chicago in several years.
If Panarin finds his niche, there is no doubt that he will be dominant, and make Stan Bowman look like a genius (again). If not, he could be a huge headache for the Blackhawks’ coaching staff, and all the hype over the past few months would be for naught.
Next: What's at #3?
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