For good chemistry, you need the right mix of ingredients. Too little of each, and the result could be ineffective. Too much and it could be combustible.
Hockey line combinations are as much about chemistry as anything. And while it’s only been together for two games, the Chicago Blackhawks feel its second line is onto some good chemistry.
Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane have formed a fairly dynamic trio in recent games. The three were put together after Marcus Kruger’s second-line audition lasted about 15 seconds and when the Blackhawks were struggling to find more offense and flow among their lines. So far the results have been good, and Shaw said the chemistry mix is a big reason why.
“I think we bring different things to the table,” he said. “Kaner’s obviously going to make plays and score goals. Saad’s quick, he drives wide and always seems to beat guys one on one. Me? I just go to the net, get pucks back, get them to the guys, create as much room out there and throw my body around.”
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Coach Joel Quenneville, who said Shaw could be a longer-term solution at second-line center, has liked what he’s seen in the entire line.
“That line, in two games (it’s) been together, has looked good. Going forward, that may be a nice fit,” Quenneville said. “(Shaw’s) around the puck. Offensively he’s got some real good instincts and he’s in the hard areas. Growing into that responsibility is how you play defensively. And he’s got a couple of wingers who can do a lot of stuff.”
Right now, it is a good mix: playmaking (Kane), substance (Saad) and sandpaper (Shaw). Saad and Kane have had success in the past together and Saad, who’s been good whether he’s been on the left or right, is back at his more natural left spot.
“I’m familiar with both (Kane and Shaw) and we get better each game,” Saad said. “(Switching lines) the last few years, you get comfortable with it; you don’t let it get into your head and affect your game. No matter what line I’m on, I feel pretty good.”
Quenneville said Saad and Kane together gives the Blackhawks an added threat.
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“Saad’s been good no matter where he’s been,” Quenneville said. “Playing away from Kaner, we had more of a threat on all the lines. But getting (Saad) back with him, that gives that line an added dimension where it’s a concern for the other team.”
You take all Blackhawks lines, and their changes, with a grain of salt. But Quenneville likes Shaw where he is right now, and if he, Saad and Kane can keep that chemistry, that right mix, going, we may be seeing that group together for a while.
“Obviously I want it to be a long-term thing,” Shaw said of the second-line center role. “It’s a privilege playing with Kane and Saad. I’ll just keep competing for them and hopefully we keep having success.”