Artem Anisimov's Star Is Rising

One of the best forwards on the team since the Olympic break, Artem Anisimov was named the second star of the week by the NHL, and is on pace for a career season.

After four goals (three of them game winners) in the last four games, it's not a surprise that the NHL decided to honor Artem Anisimov with one of their "Star of the Week" awards. (In fact, AA has been on a point per game pace since the Olympic break - the only game he failed to score in was the Chicago implosion.)

What is a little surprising is that the NHL didn't notice the season that Arty's been having before now.

As of this morning, Anisimov has 19 goals and 14 assists in 64 games - already passing his career best in goals and looks likely to break his career best total scoring (44 points) set with the Rangers in the 2010-2011 season. If he hadn't suffered a cold streak going into the Olympic break (no goals from 1/23-2/7, and only two assists over the same stretch), it's entirely possible that he'd have already crossed that line.

What a long way he's come from getting kicked out of a game for celebrating.

At this point, Anisimov is clocking an average of just under 17 minutes a game, is one of the team's best PK options, and gets reasonable amounts of PP time.

It's odd to call this a breakout season, considering his 2010-2011 production, but there's a sense that he's really taking off. Instead of a player who was seen as a reliable third line "plus" player, he's recognized as a true scoring threat (currently sitting second on the team in goals behind Ryan Johansen) and game changer. He's developed a solid fan following, and he's getting more and more recognition for his skills.

That talent for being a game changer is really clear when you look at a breakdown of his goals. Twelve of his goals so far this season have come when the team was trailing or tied, and another five came when the team was nursing a one goal lead. (Interestingly, he's yet to score an empty netter this season - every single one on his sheet has been earned the hard way.) It isn't just a case of home cooking, either - he's almost perfectly split with 10G / 7A at home and 9G / 8A away. It appears that a significant part of the team's ability to rally from deficits or lost leads comes from Anisimov, and he's one of the most likely to find an 'insurance' goal when the team needs to protect a lead. That's an incredibly valuable talent to have.

Oddly enough he also appears to be hell on Western Conference teams - he's scored 11 vs. our old friends, six of them against the Pacific Division (including his pair the last time we met up with tonight's opponent.) With a third of the remaining schedule against Western teams, we may see him put up some good numbers at the most important time.

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