Patrick Kane on history-making scoring pace, thanks to new friends

Patrick Kane on history-making scoring pace, thanks to new friends

Artem Anisimov admitted he had no idea if it would work.

Acquired in the Brandon Saad trade during the summer, Anisimov joined the Chicago Blackhawks and was cast as the center to right wing Patrick Kane. Kane spent the majority of his time with Brad Richards in 2014-15, producing his third straight point-per-game season with 64 in 61 games before suffering that broken collarbone.

On Anisimov’s left was a wild card: Artemi Panarin, a 24-year-old Russian rookie and offensive dynamo. He too was a point-per-game player last season for SKA in the KHL.

So, yeah, no pressure on Anisimov to get the most out of his wingers.

“We’ll just see on the ice. Just play the game, and the chemistry’s going to come. Eventually,” he said on October 2.

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Except there was no “eventually.” It was immediate chemistry, and the results are incredible: Kane has 30 points in 19 games, while Panarin has 21 points. They’ve played over 220 minutes of even strength hockey together, and sport the best possession numbers among the Blackhawks’ top scorers.

Anisimov is getting love as the glue for that line, the elusive second-line center the Blackhawks have been searching for since the first Stanley Cup this group produced.

From John Dietz of the Daily Herald:

Kane's game has certainly blossomed with Anisimov as his center. Through 16 games last season, Kane had scored just 4 goals and was talking about how he needed to shoot the puck more (he'd taken 46 shots). It's been the polar opposite in 19 games this year as Kane has 13 goals on 72 shots. Anisimov, too, has been reborn, already equaling his paltry goal total of 7 in 52 games last season. He's on pace for what would be a career-high 30 goals and has shown remarkable ability at finishing his scoring chances.

"He's scored 3 breakaway-type goals and it just shows you that he's got some maybe underrated skills," [GM Stan] Bowman said. "But that's not what we were primarily looking for. We wanted to have somebody that we could trust to play both ways, and he's certainly been that for us."

Panarin may be at the front of the rookie pack after Connor McDavid’s injury. SovSport recently asked him what he learned in his first month in Chicago (via The Hockey Writers):

My height didn’t grow, therefore I haven’t learned any supernatural method here (laughs). Now I’m paying more attention to little things like work with the stick. Generally speaking, there was a period where I was a little lost. And maybe now, after a small decline, a big boost is ahead of me.

As for Kane, Second City Hockey did a good job breaking down the numbers in his early season pace, via Satchel Price:

The result is that Kane's numbers likely won't take much of a step back, at least from luck's side. The forward is currently on pace for 56 goals, 73 assists and a grand total of 129 points. Even if he only shoots 14 percent for the rest of the season with the same shot rate, he'll still finish with a career-high 46 goals and likely crack the 100-point barrier for the first time in his career.

Kane's breakout is proving to be an example of the power of putting an in-his-prime superstar in the right position to succeed. The Blackhawks finally have figured out the right mix with Panarin and Anisimov flanking Kane on the second line. It's quickly become one of the most productive in the league, with Kane leading the show as the game's most prolific scorer. I mean, seriously, recording a point on 56 percent of a team's goals is ridiculous. Seguin, with 27 points, has only recorded a point on 39 percent of the Stars' goals this season. Nobody leans on a single player for scoring more than the Chicago has on Kane.

Let’s all assume that a 129-point pace is going to slow at some point, as that would give Kane the most prolific point-scoring season in the NHL since 1996.  But it’s amazing that as good as Kane’s been offensively in his career  - 587 points in 595 games, heading into Friday night’s tilt with Calgary – he’s only hit 30 goals once and has never cracked 90 points.

Barring injury, to himself or his linemates, he could clear both this season. And then who knows how much higher the points can climb if The Bread Man and Arty continue to thrive with him.

(But before we start the Hart Trophy talk, be sure to read Lozo's piece on how the sexual assault allegation made against Kane could factor into it.)

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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