Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will likely be the Chicago Blackhawks’ top line, as they try to stave off elimination in Game 5 against the Detroit Red Wings tonight at the United Center.
Desperate times are calling for desperate measures, as the Blackhawks look for ways to get any momentum, any edge and, of course, any goals. Chicago has just two of those in the last three games, which is why they’re on the brink of this postseason ending way sooner than they thought it would.
So putting together a trio like this is just about necessary.
“They’ve played in the past and during the year a few shifts here and there,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
The Blackhawks have spread those three out more throughout the season to bring more depth to their team. But the usual stuff isn’t working against the Red Wings. So Quenneville has started to juggle lines looking for a spark, something that’s been missing since Game 1.
Obviously the three are familiar with each other, although they’ve played together as a line sparingly lately. Still, Kane said if the chemistry clicks right away, they could be in good shape.
“I played a lot my first couple years in the league and developed some chemistry where it was pretty instant and had a lot of offensive chances. We just have to remember how to play with each other; we haven’t done it in a while,” he said. “Hopefully we can have a couple good shifts early and get the chemistry back right away.”
It’s hard to say whether all of the Blackhawks’ Saturday morning lines will be that way tonight -– Quenneville altered the lines right before Game 4 on Thursday. This morning, Bryan Bickell joined Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad was with Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg and Dave Bolland centered Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik. Whoever is lined up -– and paired –- with whom, the Blackhawks need production now. Quenneville said the start tonight is critical.
“It would certainly be nice to start with a lead and get the crowd into the game right off the bat,” Quenneville said. “Scoring early in the game’s been hard to do. But we have to make sure we put some pressure (on the Wings) and get that crowd into it, take home ice and use it to our advantage.”