Chicago Blackhawks Roundtable: Anisimov’s Return And A Bye Week

By Colin Likas
NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 23: Artem Anisimov
NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 23: Artem Anisimov /
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CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 12: Lance Bouma
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 12: Lance Bouma /

Ryan Leidig

Question 1: Lance Bouma, while his play has not been bad — he is good on the PK and brings energy — has almost no offense. David Kampf is almost the same player but younger. Give him the playing time. You can move Tommy Wingels to the wing and put Patrick Sharp on the other side. This would hopefully improve the fourth line and bring more consistency on the score sheet.

Question 2: It’s hard to say, but honestly it may be a good thing. With so many young players and core players aging, they have looked fatigued. Maybe the time off will give them some much-needed rest.

One player to single out is Alex DeBrincat. He was playing so well and over the last bit he has slowed down considerably. It may be that he is getting fatigued by the longer and more physical season of the NHL.

Colin Likas

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Question 1: Patrick Sharp should be the one to sit when Artem Anisimov returns from injured reserve. There just isn’t anything Sharp is offering that can’t be given by another player in any even better way.

Sharp saw a bit of a boost with David Kampf as his new center, but he also can’t keep up with a majority of the forwards he’s tasked to play alongside. Plus, he’s just not converting nearly enough of his chances, and considering just how many he takes a game, it’s detrimental to the team.

The Blackhawks can find a way to keep Kampf around as well, whether it’s by pushing Nick Schmaltz back to a wing or finding some other solution. But Anisimov in the lineup makes for an improvement, while taking Sharp out of it likely does the same.

Question 2: The players will say this break was good because it gets their minds and bodies right, but I don’t know if the Blackhawks wouldn’t rather be playing right now.

With how inconsistent they’ve been, I don’t know that any sort of extended break can change things. The Blackhawks have had quite a few lengthy breaks throughout the season — hence why they were so far behind in games played a few weeks ago compared to some Western Conference opponents. Those breaks didn’t do any good, either.

The bigger issue here has been with roster construction. Now that the Blackhawks are getting closer to something resembling a roster that could actually vie for a playoff spot, coach Joel Quenneville needs to settle on a lineup and let the guys do their thing. Oh, and that thing needs to be showing up to every game, not just the ones against over-.500 teams.