The Chicago Blackhawks trotted out their shuffled lines at Friday’s practice, with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane split, Brandon Saad on the top line and Bryan Bickell on the third.
Hey, not like they’re getting massive scoring with their current combos.
The Blackhawks are looking for a way to shake out of their barely scoring slumber as they prepare to host the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night at the United Center. For all the firepower the Blackhawks possess, they have been shooting blanks more often than not. Two goals per game seems to be their current trend, and they want to shake out of it, fast. So line changes, there will be.
“We’re more comfortable with the lines today than we have been to start the season,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve had success with the top line coming out of the playoffs. But we feel we have more balance in the look today.”
Quenneville said Marian Hossa, who was just taking Friday off, will be on the top line with Toews and Saad tomorrow night. Patrick Kane was with Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp on the second line while Bickell joined Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw on the third. Brandon Pirri anchored the fourth line with Brandon Bollig and Joakim Nordstrom.
It’s worth a look if it breaks the Blackhawks out of their offensive doldrums.
“We’re just trying to find the chemistry, the finish we need on each line,” Shaw said. “Everyone can play with everyone on this team, that’s what’s so great about it. But we just have to see what fits best right now.”
Captain Jonathan Toews isn’t overly concerned about the current scoring issues.
“My answer’s not different than the last time we talked about it. We have a lot of talent in this room, so nothing’s going to change here,” he said. “Scoring comes from confidence, when you’re getting the results you want and seeing the puck go in. When you score a goal, you definitely feel the energy, play loose. When that happens more naturally, the rest of the game will come along, too.”
The Blackhawks haven’t been in this situation for a while. Outside of the power play, the Blackhawks pretty much had everything working at top speed last season, including capitalizing on their prime goal opportunities. But it’s a different year, a few different working parts and so adjustments have to be made.
“We’re generating a few chances some games and we’re not able to capitalize. Maybe we just need a couple to get rolling,” Patrick Sharp said. “I don’t doubt our ability to score goals. I think the most important thing is how we pay 5 on 5 and keep them out of our net. For the most part we’ve done well in those areas. The goals will come.”
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The Blackhawks will tinker, shuffle, switch and alter as need be. The talent is there and, for the most part, the shots have been, too. The Blackhawks will keep looking for solutions until their offense is running at top speed again.
“I think we’re happy with our end result with the record right now. But offensively, we’re not nearly where we need to be,” Bryan Bickell said. “We need to put 60 minutes together to have that. We stirred up the lines today to try and get some sparks with different players. Hopefully that works.”