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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Matthew Morrow

Question 1: For now, Patrick Sharp. While he has been showing some promise lately, he isn’t as useful as others in the role he would be playing in. Players like Lance Bouma or Tommy Wingles may be considered, but they were added to make the Blackhawks harder to play against, and their physicality is needed.

Centers should be (no order): Jonathan Toews, Anisimov, David Kampf and Nick Schmaltz. Wingers should be: Vinnie Hinostroza, Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, Ryan Hartman, Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Duclair, Wingels and Bouma.

Sharp would slot in on the fourth line if he plays, but they need Wingels and Bouma there to bang some bodies, and they also need to be in the lineup for their PK abilities. Wingels may also provide more offense on the wing. When Anisimov returns, John Hayden is recalled and Dylan Sikura is signed, the Blackhawks will have some tough decisions to make.

Steve Yatsushiro

More from Analysis

Question 1: Patrick Sharp should be the odd man out when Artem Anisimov returns to the lineup. In a choice between Sharp and my other candidate, Lance Bouma, I’m keeping the fourth-line banger. Here is the comparison between the two.

Bouma 1G 5A 8Pts +5 44 Shots 10:37 TOI 49.1% CF% 43.8% oZS% 111 Hits 22 Blocks

Sharp 6G 7A 13Pts -5 86 Shots 13:22 TOI 52.7% CF% 62.4% oZS% 21 Hits 16 Blocks

While Sharp is getting 62.4 percent of his starts in the offensive zone, he is not producing and even has a negative plus/minus rating. Bouma is getting only 43.8 percent of his starts in the offensive zone, yet manages to hover near 50 percent in Corsi-for with a positive plus/minus rating.

He plays on the penalty kill and has more hits and blocked shots in less time on ice. Bouma might not be as popular with the fans, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s more effective in his role than Sharp is in his.

The return of Anisimov will be a positive offensive asset and is obviously an upgrade over Sharp. If Sharp is relegated to the fourth line, then Bouma is the better grinder to keep over Sharp.

Question 2: Extended time off for the ‘Hawks has been a double-edged sword. All teams need the pause that refreshes. However, the ‘Hawks typically come out of breaks with uninspired and lackadaisical play

This bye week would be good if they could practice on the rough spots, especially the powerplay, but the collective bargaining agreement mandates that they be off until Friday. If the captain wants to hold unofficial workouts at some private rink, that would be amazing. But I highly doubt that is going to happen.

The ‘Hawks defeated the first-place Jets on Friday night and then lost to the struggling ‘Wings on Sunday. When that happens, you can point to complacency as the evil behind inconsistent play. This team is having problems with self-motivation, and there aren’t any signs to indicate that they are interested in turning things around.

Next: Exploring Reasons For Blackhawks' Inconsistency

They can’t keep waiting to “flip the switch” when the season is slipping away. So in my opinion, this bye week is the last thing this team needs right now. They need to put their heads down and get to work. Stop being rock stars and start being hockey players. Because winning is so much more sexy than doing autograph sessions.