Two games in and the Chicago Blackhawks have already collected a cool four points.
With a starting schedule that included back-to-back games on opening weekend against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings, and the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season, the Phoenix Coyotes, some could have said the 'Hawks had it tough.
Nonetheless, the team came together nicely in a short training camp and have started the season with a bang.
One player on the 'Hawks in particular that has risen to the occasion is Marian Hossa. There was some concern if Hossa could rebound to form after the concussion he suffered in last years playoffs.
But after two games played, no one is even suggesting that idea. Hossa has turned himself into the team's biggest offensive threat going into the Blackhawks' third game on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues
Considering Hossa's play thus far, it begs a question. How can they make the most out of his stellar play?
One way this can be done is to put Hossa on the second line to keep him protected from top checkers. So far, Quenneville has been using Hossa and Toews on the top line, with Carcillo playing alongside them—until Saad took his spot after getting injured.
As the season goes on, it may be best to split Hossa and Toews up, even though they are playing well together at the moment.
A plausible scenario could be to make a swap between the first and second lines. If you moved Kane up to the top line with Toews, you have another great tandem of two players who really click.
When Kane and Toews are on their game, they are a force together.
However, in order for them to be an offensive force and to fully use their skills in the offensive zone, the line will need a great defensive player who will allow them to showcase their talents. And, that same player will also need to be able to play at the offensive level of both those guys in order to make the line a triple threat.
That guy has to be Dave Bolland.
Bolland has been the 'Hawks' go to defensive checker in recent years. All you have to do is bring up memories of him checking and shadowing Vancouver's Sedin brothers and then you will understand.
The guy is a great player and has a great knack of being able to take opponents stars off their game.
What an asset to have on your team.
Putting this line together of Bolland, Toews and Kane will mean that Hossa can drop down to the second line. Which allows him more room on the ice. With the other teams top players being pit against the No. 1 line, it means the second line can really do the damage against other teams throughout the game.
Take the second game of the season against the Coyotes as an example and you can see how effective a strong No. 2 line can be.
The 'Hawks scored six goals in the game and there was 16 points created across the box score. Of those points up for grabs, the second line was able to combine for seven of them. The first line? They combined for two. Both being goals by Marian Hossa.
What this shows is that Hossa is a huge threat playing on the first line and will continue to be, or possibly even more of one, playing on the second line against less superior players checking him.
Toews and Kane can continue to play together up front and will also have the defensive capabilities of Bolland to bail them out as they both take their offense to the next level.
It also gives Bolland the chance he has always deserved. Let's not forget the guy was a prolific scorer in junior for the London Knights of the OHL. His high-end skill has always been passed over in favor of his defensive game.
Why not utilize both and give one of your most important players a piece of the spotlight for once?
On the second line, you would have to give the center spot to Saad. He is going to be part of the 'Hawks future for a long time and putting him on the second line instead of the first gives him some space to grow and will also allow him to be a difference maker. Again—like Hossa—Saad can adjust to the NHL without having to play top talent.
As for Carcillo, the team expects him to only miss a month and when he comes back there is always a spot on the third line for him. There he can be utilized to provide protection for Victor Stalberg and Marcus Kruger, two guys who would love a force like Carcillo to give them some more room to work with.
The 'Hawks have a good thing going and it seems like their lines are clicking. But if things start to change, and the offense begins to sputter the team may be smart to move Hossa to the second line.
Creating a puck-controlling, defensive and dynamic first line and a second line that can provide the 'Hawks top offensive threat his best opportunity to make a difference could be key.
No matter what the coaching staff decides to do, whether Quenneville experiments as the season goes along, or if he sticks with what he has been doing with so far, it does not really matter.
All that matters is the two points the team can pick up at the end of each and every game.
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