Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks, NHL 3 Stars: Panarin Posts Stellar Week

By Colin Likas
Dec 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) shoots and scores an empty net goal as St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) dives to defend during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) shoots and scores an empty net goal as St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) dives to defend during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Blackhawks 3 Stars

Third star: D Duncan Keith

I probably could’ve given this spot to Artem Anisimov. But Keith had a really solid four games prior to Sunday against San Jose.

Keith posted four assists across those four games to run his season total up to 21 on the year prior to Sunday, giving him the team lead. He also potted three of those on the powerplay, giving him the second-most man-advantage points among the Blackhawks in those four games.

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On top of all that, he averaged a silly 26:30 in ice time. None of those three games were blowouts (though the Stars didn’t seem to be much into their game against Chicago), so Keith was needed throughout. And he helped the Blackhawks to four wins with good play on both ends of the ice.

Second star: G Scott Darling

The previous four games heading into Sunday against San Jose was like a tale of two different goaltenders. At least the scoreboard suggested as much.

But really, Darling was solid throughout four consecutive wins against the Stars, Rangers, Islanders and Blues. The backup still managed a .915 save percentage and 2.50 goals-allowed average over the four games despite allowing eight goals across the last two.

Reason being, he was really good against Dallas and the Rangers. He stopped 23 of 24 shots against the Stars before corralling 33 of 34 in Part I of the New York trip.

He was even good against the Islanders, as poor play on his part probably would’ve seen Chicago staring up at a touchdown and PAT allowed … or worse. He wound up with 28 saves on 32 attempts. The Blues game was meh, but the week was all-around good for Darling.

First star: Artemi Panarin

This was an easy choice. Anisimov, Keith and Patrick Kane each tallied four points over the previous four games prior to Sunday’s tilt. Panarin posted a ridiculous nine points in that same stretch.

The guy is certainly starting to feel it. His one-timer is clicking on all cylinders, his on-ice vision is somehow getting even better and he’s showing continued killer chemistry with typical linemates Kane and Anisimov while also faring well with other Blackhawks in different situations.

Four goals and five assists, with three powerplay goals and four powerplay points, all with just 10 shots on goal means you’ve earned the Blackhawks’ first star for the previous week.

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