A stretch of three losses in four games paired dwindling possession numbers were all coach Joel Quenneville needed to conclude that his team needed a spark. And his usual tactic for finding that ignition is making busting out his Line Blender™, as he did in practice on Thursday morning.
Alex DeBrincat was moved up to the right wing next to Jonathan Toews, with Brandon Saad remaining on Toews’ left wing. Richard Panik flipped sides and was on the left wing next to Nick Schmaltz, who still had Patrick Kane on his right wing. Artem Anisimov remained the third line center with Patrick Sharp as his left wing, but John Hayden joined them on the right wing. The fourth line was comprised of, from left to right, Lance Bouma, Tommy Wingels, and Ryan Hartman.
There’s a lot to like here for the top two lines, in theory. DeBrincat has displayed the on-ice vision to see plays many others cannot, while both Toews and Saad have the ability to finish those chances DeBrincat creates. On the second line, Panik has been one of the Hawks most active forecheckers, and if he can win the puck and get it to Schmaltz or Kane, good things are going to happen for that line. His nose for the net will also come in handy should there be any rebounds off of shots from Kane or Schmaltz.
The third line hasn’t found its rhythm yet, as our Satchel Price mentioned earlier this week. But Hayden has continued to impress in his young career and could inject some life into that group. Hartman doesn’t seem out of place on the fourth-line, either, along with Bouma and Wingels.
The D pairings were changed up as well
The defensive pairings got moved around as well. Duncan Keith was skating with Jan Rutta, Gustav Forsling was paired with Brent Seabrook, Michal Kempny teamed with Connor Murphy, and Jordan Oesterle joined Cody Franson on the final D pairing. The early assumption here is that the Oesterle/Franson duo will be the scratched players for Friday night’s game against the Nashville Predators.
What do you think about this new look for the Hawks? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!