The Chicago Blackhawks second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, and Patrick Kane had a rough start to the 2016-17 NHL season. Through the first three games, the line would only produce three total points, though they were disbanded during the second game versus the Nashville Predators. More was expected of a trio who collectively scored 96 goals and 225 points last year.
The story was different Tuesday night when the Blackhawks took on the Philadelphia Flyers. Being 1-2-0 on the season and having almost no production from their reigning Calder Memorial Trophy- and Art Ross Trophy-winning players, Panarin and Kane, respectively, they needed a big game to get back into elite form.
With pressure on the league’s best line from last season, the Hawks success surrounded their play.
During the Hawks 7-4 tilt over the Flyers, the “PAK” line would explode to produce 11 points on the night, and a step in the right direction for games to come.
Anismov was huge in the Hawks 7-4 win. During an interview prior to the game, he stated that he needed to play smarter after taking four penalties in the first three games. On Tuesday night, Anisimov scored two goals and two assists to ignite confidence in himself as well as his line.
Panarin’s contribution was hefty for the Hawks, but more so for himself. The reigning Calder winner wasn’t exceeding expectations in the first three games this season and it was costing the team points. His two one-timer goals and single assist gave the team room for comfort as they extended the lead.
NHL analysts around the hockey world were wondering if Kane could start this season at the same pace as he did last season. Unfortunately, Kane started off slow and younger players were stepping up to the plate. Kane had a mission Tuesday night and was all over the ice, achieving his sixth career four-point game with one goal and three assists. He now leads the team with one goal and five assists for six points.
Going from only having three points in three games to 11 points in a single game was monumental for the PAK line. It seems like this was the line’s breakthrough point, which should make the Blackhawks a dangerous opponent moving forward.