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Last season, the Blackhawks second line mainly consisted of Patrick Kane, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad. It was a terrific line, especially one that showed up in the postseason leading the Hawks to their 3rd stanley cup in 6 seasons. Last year, the Hawks second line of Saad-Richards-Kane combined for a total of 153 goals, but had limited time together due to the Kane clavicle injury. Now don’t get me wrong, those points weren’t all when they three were together, but it gives you a general idea of how good the players on the second line were. That line alone, again not always together as Kane shared time on the top line, totaled 48 combined points during the playoff run last year, including the dagger in the clinching game of the Stanley cup final.

My point is, that second line last year was terrific, and also was broken up during the 2015 offseason. Brad Richards left via free agency, and went to the Detroit Red Wings. Brandon Saad, due to issues with his contract, was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade that most Blackhawks fans, including myself, thought was going to be extremely detrimental to the Hawks success going forward. Ultimately, though its hard to say and easily debatable, the Blackhawks won that trade, getting a second center for the 2nd line and a prospect in Marko Dano who has unreal raw potential, which he has shown signs of early in the season while being on the top line. That left Kane as the only Hawks player that consistently played on the second line during the 2014-2015 season and left fans wondering if they would have the same offensive production as last year.

 How did they rebuild the second line? 

On April 29th, 2015 the Blackhawks went out and signed Artemi Panarin from Saint Petersburg to a two year entry level contract. In Panarin’s last two seasons at SKA Saint Petersburg, Panarin totaled 102 points (46 goals, 56 assists) in 105 games played. This was a huge signing for the Blackhawks and he has already proven that at the early stages of the 2015 season, leading all rookies with 21 points and 14 assists while tallying 7 goals. As mentioned above, the Hawks acquired a center in the Brandon Saad trade, and that center happened to be Artem Anisimov. In Anisimov’s 7 seasons in the NHL, he has tallied 202 points while with the Rangers and the Blue Jackets.  Although he isn’t scoring with the likes of Kane and Panarin, while with the Blackhawks through 19 games, Anisimov has tallies 12 points while centering the 2nd line.

So is this second line as good, or even better than the 2014-2015 second line? I say yes. Through 19 games, the second line of Panarin-Anisimov-Kane has tallied a total of 63 points, while being home to the NHL leader in every offensive category in Patrick Kane, and the NHL rookies leader in points and assists in Artemi Panarin. With still over a third of the season left to go, those three are only 90 points away from catching last years second line’s point total. That’s not as hard as a feat to accomplish when Patrick Kane is on pace for 129 total points, which isn’t completely likely but is extremely possible. With the chemistry these three have together, getting 90 plus points in 63 games is no where near out of the question, considering for the first 16 they were the ones who mostly did the scoring.

How good is the second lines chemistry?

For a stretch pf a few games, Panarin was stuck on the top line due to the Hossa injury. When Hossa returned, Panarin was put back on the second line, scoring two goals that game and in an interview with CSN’s Tracy Myers after the game Panarin said the chemistry was better because he scored two goals. Panarin isn’t the only one to notice how well the 3 play together, as Trevor van Riemdsly told John Dietz that “It’s something special to watch. It seems like every time they are on the ice they get it into the offensive zone and make something happen.” Another reason they are able to work so well is because Anisimov, like Panarin, is Russian but also can speak and understand English. This is so big because anything that the bench and coaches try and relay to them when they are coming on or off of the ice, Anisimov can tell to Panarin for a smooth transition.

The best thing about this line that should have Hawks fans excited is the fact we have each player locked down for multiple years. Kane till the 2023 season, Anisimov till the 2021 season, and although Panarin is only signed through next season, I assume that Bowman will see he gets the contract extension that he deserves. So, sorry to tell you fans of any team besides the Blackhawks, but you’re going to be putting up with this group for awhile, and its only going to get better.

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