Coach Joel Quenneville has shown us in the past that he has no problem changing up his lines if things aren’t working, and things are not working. The Chicago Blackhawks opened up the season strong behind a great offense and some impressive goalie play from Corey Crawford. More recently though, the Hawks have struggled to get that same offense going and their defensive pairings are showing their youth. In an attempt to bring some life back into his team, Quenneville announced some new lines for his team. Here is a more in-depth look at the Blackhawks new forward lines.
First Line – Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat
Alex DeBrincat will see his first action on the team’s top line after taking the place of Richard Panik on said line. This change has more to do with Quenneville’s belief in DeBrincat than a disbelief in Panik. Panik is a top scoring option for the Hawks and the top line seemed to be the strongest as far as offensive output is concerned.
The move allows for a DeBrincat’s skilled playmaking abilities to be on display while he tries to space the ice better for Toews who knows how to finish on his scoring chances. DeBrincat is younger and may have a higher ceiling than Panik, Quenneville’s motivation for this change may be just to see how well the young forward can do against other top talents.
Second Line – Richard Panik, Nick Schmaltz, Patrick Kane
Panik may have been moved from the top line but he offers too much to this team to fall too far. He will now see time with two of the Hawks smaller and quicker skaters in Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. Panik could be the perfect compliment to this line as both Kane and Schmaltz could use a larger body on the ice who can absorb bodies and open up space for the smaller forwards. Panik also has shown the ability to finish a play when set up well and he’s now on a line with one of the best playmakers in the league in Kane.
Line Three – Patrick Sharp, Artem Anisimov, John Hayden
The pairing of Sharp, Anisimov and Hayden can compete admirably with other third lines but will struggle when matched up against other teams top two lines. Sharp was a good offseason addition as he still can score the puck and provides veteran leadership but it has been obvious so far this season that he’s lost a step. This line is here for additional scoring, they won’t score often but when they do it will go a long way to helping the team win.
Line Four – Lance Bouma, Tommy Wingels, Ryan Hartman
Oh, how the Hartman has fallen. Hartman finds himself falling from the second line with Kane to the fourth line. This isn’t a knock on Hartman though, as Quenneville is probably looking for Hartman to liven this group up. So far this season, the fourth line has been there to try and prevent the opposition from scoring and haven’t dished out much scoring of their own. With Hartman on this line that could change as he actually offers some offensive talent that should lead to this line scoring more often than it had in the beginning of the season.