One week after lamenting his poor play, Artem Anisimov has rattled off a three-game goal streak and looks like the center the Blackhawks have relied on the past two seasons.
"Way, way better," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Thursday, a day before traveling to play at Minnesota. "He's been way more effective having the puck more, carrying the puck more. Has more speed to his game."
It was Anisimov who snapped the Hawks' ugly 0-for-18 power-play skid in a 3-0 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday when he scored the game's first goal midway through the second period.
Quenneville also likes how the big center understands that he must carry the play through the neutral zone more than he did the past two seasons, when Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin were on the wings.
Anisimov mainly has had Patrick Sharp on his left side this season, and John Hayden has been getting a look on the right side the past few games.
"We're getting to know each other better," said Anisimov, who had 1 goal and 1 assist in the first 10 games. "It makes the game easier."
Quenneville didn't rule out moving him up the lineup. A Brandon Saad-Anisimov-Patrick Kane line could create headaches for opponents.
"Certainly his pace has really picked up," Quenneville said. "(That) gives us such a big improvement to our team game when you add his presence in the middle of the ice. …
"Still think he could play with some top guys as we're going along."
No fun sitting:
After Tanner Kero was called up from Rockford in late December last season, he appeared in 47 straight games. The young center impressed coaches so much that when Artem Anisimov went down with a leg injury in Game 69, it was Kero who then centered the second line with Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane.
It's a different story early this season, though, as Kero will likely sit for a sixth consecutive game when the Hawks play at Minnesota. Kero's playing time has been reduced because of the addition Tommy Wingels, who has centered the fourth line in 11 of the past 12 games.
Kero admitted Thursday sitting hasn't been easy, but coach Joel Quenneville appreciates the way the 25-year-old has gone about his business.
"Have to commend him on his attitude," Quenneville said. "Every day he works hard. He treats practices like games.
"It's obviously frustrating, disappointing. Persevering is what it's all about right now and finding a way to stay game ready."
Defenseman Gustav Forsling, injured vs. Colorado last week, will not play against Minnesota. Coach Joel Quenneville was hopeful Forsling could play at home against Montreal on Sunday. … Quenneville said Jordin Tootoo (upper body) is closer to returning, but he did not give a timetable.