Monday, November 7, 2011

Rangers' Anisimov Continues To Grow Before Our Eyes

Artem Anisimov an excellent sophomore season with the New York Rangers last year watching his production go from 28 points (12G, 16A) to 44 points (18G, 26A).  Anisimov found a home playing with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan on the team’s best line last season.  The performance of that trio led to lofty expectations for all three entering the season.  Anisimov showed in training camp/during the preseason that he has put in the work to get stronger and work on the flaws in his game, but the results were not showing early. 

His individual play was good, however the line was struggling to produce anything on the scoreboard.  Callahan and Dubinsky were not playing their typical style of game and that even more than the lack of scoring was what cause coach John Tortorella to start tinkering with the line.  Anisimov was the victim of the line being broken up because Tortorella had seemed averse to putting him with Gaborik on the top line.  Once Anisimov fell out of the top six he ended up being pushed to the fourth line. 

Anisimov continued to work and finally got his first goal of season Monday against San Jose on  a tremendous backhand shot high over the shoulder.   The work and effort Anisimov put in while waiting for his chance to get more ice time while playing higher in the lineup has now paid off.   The most recent groin injury to Wojtek Wolski afforded him that opportunity and Anisimov is playing like he has no intention of going anywhere from his spot alongside Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik.  In two games the 23-year-old forward has four assists and is showing excellent chemistry with both Stepan and Gaborik.  The four points for Anisimov have him third on the team with eight points thus far (1G, 7A) and as long as he continues to play at the level he has been at the last two those numbers are going to continue to rise.

The constant improvement in all facets of the game that Artem Anisimov continues to make seems to get overlooked by the media and the fans of the New York Rangers.  Last year the talk centered on Dubinsky and Callahan for the work the line did and in the past two games it was about Stepan and Gaborik.  All four of those other players deserve the attention they get, but Anisimov should get some credit for what those lines accomplished as well.  Each year Anisimov adds to his game and the 23-year-old has become a player more than capable of hanging with top line players on both ends of the ice.  Add a quicker release to his added strength, good skating, quality vision/passing and lethal shot off the rush and you have a force to be reckoned with.  The consistency in production on the scoreboard is still coming, but there is nothing about the development of this young Russian forward that should be taken for granted.