The Chicago Blackhawks will be without a key piece for the next month, as Artem Anisimov has been ruled out for three to four weeks with a lower body injury. Anisimov suffered the injury when colliding with Alexander Radulov last night in Montreal, in the Hawks’ 4-2 victory over the Canadiens.
Three weeks would bring Anisimov back for the final two regular season games, while a month would keep him out for the remainder of the regular season. Either way, it’s likely he’ll be back in time to participate in at least part of the first round. The Hawks just took over first place in the Central Division, and would currently draw the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs.
Though losing Anisimov hurts—the second line center is having another excellent season skating alongside Patrick Kane, scoring 22 goals and 44 points—the Blackhawks are prepared to give younger players increased responsibility. Nick Schmaltz will move into the second line center role full time, while the recently signed John Hayden will slide in next to Jonathan Toews on the top line. Speaking with Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, Hayden seemed excited to get started with the club:
To be honest, playing with anyone would be great. The whole locker room is filled with household names.
In the past, the Blackhawks have moved lesser-known players in and out of their top-six to great results. It seems as though anyone who plays with Toews and Kane (not to mention Artemi Panarin and Marian Hossa) can find success, with Schmaltz being the latest example. Anisimov will be given the time to heal properly, and get back to firing on all cylinders for what looks like another deep playoff run.