Chicago Blackhawks Notes: Anisimov Returns To Chicago, Snuggerud Signs

By Colin Likas
Mar 14, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov (15) is attended to by trainers at the end of the first period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov (15) is attended to by trainers at the end of the first period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /
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There are a few items worth taking into account after the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday

Tuesday night saw just another road win for the Chicago Blackhawks, who collected their ninth victory in their last 10 tries away from the United Center by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-2.

With the win, the Blackhawks climbed into first place in the Central Division and Western Conference by a point over Minnesota, albeit with one more game played. San Jose, which also won last night, is also in on the Western Conference chase at 91 points in the same number of games played as Chicago.

Following Tuesday’s result, there’s a bit of bookkeeping to take care of with the Blackhawks.

Artem Anisimov‘s injury status

Perhaps the biggest concern after Tuesday’s game was second-line center Artem Anisimov going down with a leg injury in the first period’s closing minutes. It turns out Anisimov is going back to Chicago for the remainder of this two-game road trip, and doing so with a walking boot on his left foot.

Alex Radulov went for a basic check on Anisimov behind the Blackhawks’ net, and went down awkwardly in the process. Instead of landing on just the ice, Radulov landed almost squarely on Anisimov’s left leg.

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The Russian center did not get up until time expired in the period, lying on the ice for many seconds. He reportedly could be heard yelling in agony, and he put no weight on the leg as he was assisted to the locker room once the horn sounded.

It was great to hear after the game, then, that Anisimov’s injury is reportedly “not serious.” That’s courtesy of coach Joel Quenneville, though Anisimov left the game with a walking boot on that left foot.

Just by watching Anisimov getting evaluated in real time on TV, it would appear his ankle is the source of pain. Anisimov was shaking his head “no” as trainers moved down the leg to find the injured area, but the head-shaking stopped when they got to the ankle.

While something like a high-ankle sprain would not be good news, it’d be way better news than a busted bone in his leg or a blown-out knee, both obvious fears in real time. CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers suggested Anisimov could be out as few as these next two road games.

This is Anisimov’s second lower-body injury this month, the first coming in a March 1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Blackhawks sign a defenseman

In recent days, the Blackhawks have added young forwards Anthony Louis and John Hayden on two-year deals. Today, they decided to bolster their blueline corps by signing 2014 draft pick Luc Snuggerud to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The defenseman Snuggerud was selected 141st overall by the Blackhawks in that 2014 draft. The 21-year-old, 6-foot, 187-pound athlete recently finished his junior season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, racking up a career-best 31 points in 39 games to go with 36 penalty minutes.

Hockey’s Future describes Snuggerud as such:

"Snuggerud is an offensive-minded defenseman who skates well and can distribute the puck on the rush. Like New York Islanders’ defenseman Nick Leddy, he played for Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota before playing college hockey and plays a similar style. As with many young defenders, he is at his best when joining the attack or contributing on the powerplay. He should continue to refine the defensive areas of his game and add the size and strength necessary to play at the pro level during his college career."

I mean, I’d be totally fine with having another Nick Leddy on the roster. I miss the current Nick Leddy every time I see Trevor van Riemsdyk or Michal Rozsival on the ice.

In all seriousness though, Snuggerud is an addition to a minor-league defense corps the Blackhawks don’t seem terribly impressed with. Erik Gustafsson has seen no NHL action this season despite being with the Blackhawks much of last season. Same goes for Viktor Svedberg, and Ville Pokka hasn’t played an NHL game in Chicago.

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The Blackhawks have tried to find the right mix between puck-moving defensemen (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook) and defensive/stay-at-home defensemen (Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya), and this signing appears to go toward the former route.

It’ll be interesting to see how the likes of Hayden, Louis and Snuggerud fare in the preseason camps for the Blackhawks now that they have pro contracts under their belts.

Mum’s the word on Corey Crawford

The last note I wanted to touch on today involves the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender, Corey Crawford. Last night, he took an absolute screamer off the head from Montreal defenseman Shea Weber, and from pretty close range.

Crow went down like a ton of bricks, but after an examination by team trainers with referees in the vicinity, Crow missed no playing time.

Twitter had a field day with this, as some argued Crow should have been put in concussion protocol after taking a slapper off the dome from a guy who has won the league’s fastest-shot competition other times. Others said Crow playing well immediately after the event showed he was OK.

I can’t say I necessarily agree with the latter view, and this is probably a situation that called for the concussion protocol to be put in place. Even if that heavily-fortified piece of plastic on Crow’s head absorbed every bit of force from the vulcanized rubber striking him, he still essentially took a rock to the head from 15 feet away, fired in excess of 100 MPH.

Crow talked to the media after the game and appeared none the worse for wear, but concussion symptoms have been known to creep up days after the event that caused them. Let’s hope the Blackhawks were as careful as they should’ve been and Crow comes out of this without a scratch.

Next: Blackhawks Stand Pat In Latest Power Rankings

Outside of that argument though, the idea that Crow took a point-blank slapper from Weber off his forehead is crazy. There are three guys in the NHL who goaltenders likely most fear seeing wind up: Weber, Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf. All three could easily break a pane of glass with a shot (Phaneuf has, multiple times in the same game).

Let’s hope he doesn’t have to face this opportunity often, if at all, in the future.

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