The Chicago Blackhawks are tinkering. Can you blame them? They've lost three games in a row, and the last time Joel Quenneville got to choose his line matchups, the Los Angeles Kings scored six goals in the third period. In Game Four, Chicago kept their lines secret... which didn't work much better. So this morning's practice line combinations are a glimpse into what Quenneville is looking for out of his team tonight.
#Blackhawks lines: Bickell-Toews-Hossa, Saad-Shaw-Kane, Sharp-Handzus-Versteeg, Bollig-Kruger-Smith. Commence Internet freakout in 3, 2, 1.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) May 28, 2014
What does Darryl Sutter need to think about heading into tonight's Game Five?
gets some new friends
The player who terrorized the Kings during last year's Western Conference Finals has been quiet so far in this series. Spending a bunch of time with Michal Handzus certainly didn't help. Today, Patrick Kane is back with Game 1/2 partner Brandon Saad, but with the no-longer injured Andrew Shaw in between. Might make them a bit more threatening. Expect Sutter to try and get Jarret Stoll out against him, though Quenneville can avoid that matchup now.
Michal Handzus makes the cut
Speaking of Handzus, he didn't take a single shift in the second half of Monday's game. This was seen by many as an indication that Handzus would be scratched in Game 5. However, Quenneville is sticking to his guns, sending Peter Regin to the bench and keeping Handzus in. And with two offensive threats, no less! Apparently, Quenneville is banking on Handzus contributing to a better PK performance than we saw in Game Four.
The first line: not the problem
Jonathan Toews has been the most effective Blackhawk in this series, and after moving him with Patrick Kane for Game Four, it looks like we're back to the first line which gave Anze Kopitar and friends a challenge in Games 1-3. Bryan Bickell, Marian Hossa, and Toews will almost certainly match up against Kopitar again.
Brandon Bollig is in the lineup!
Who takes on Jeff Carter?
All right, some actual Bolling analysis: his line (with Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith) saw the most time against Jeff Carter in Game Two. We all know how that turned out. Does Quenneville go back to that matchup in Game Five? Shaw has seen plenty of time against Carter in the last two games, so matching the second line against the second line is certainly an option. That would likely leave Quenneville matching Stoll vs. Handzus and Richards vs. Kruger. However, this series has not seen a single game in which the matchups went 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4.
What do you think the effects of these changes will be? Is Quenneville even going to stick with these lines for longer than a period? Which matchup can the Kings exploit? Give us your thoughts in the comments.