By Adam Hess
During the month of March, there wasn’t a lot that went well for the Blackhawks, but one thing that certainly did not help matters was the lack of production they got from their second line. While Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane had been able to carry a lot of the productive load earlier in the season, in March they could hardly get much offense going at all.
Panarin and Kane posted just seven and nine points, respectively, in Chicago’s 13 games during the month of March. Those numbers are not horrible in a vacuum, but considering the production rates from those two up until that point this season, they were certainly concerning drop-offs.
However, as April began and the weather started to heat up, so did Panarin and Kane, the former especially so. In the first two games of the month, Kane and Panarin have already combined for 13 points, just three shy of their total for the entire month of March.
Panarin himself has already bested his March point total, with back-to-back four point games giving him eight points in just two April games. Kane, meanwhile, posted two points during last Friday’s win over Winnipeg and a hat trick on Sunday against Boston. Those five points allowed him to eclipse the 100-point total for the first time in his career, and it is entirely possible he will be the only NHL player to break the century mark this season.
These two players getting hot to start the spring should be extremely encouraging to Blackhawks players and fans alike. Again, these two players have been relied upon for a large portion of the point production this season. They’re the team’s top two scorers, and Kane leads the NHL while Panarin is tenth in the league in points. Their offensive production will be absolutely key to any potential success the Blackhawks will have in the playoffs.
With goaltender Corey Crawford likely to be just coming off injury as the playoffs begin, and Duncan Keith set to miss the first game of the playoffs due to suspension, getting production from the second line will be a necessity for the Blackhawks if they hope to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Kane and Panarin have started this April month very strong. The key now is for them to carry these strong performances into the playoffs.