Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville isn't one to change a winning lineup. A 5-2 win in Game 1 of the Hawks' Western Conference second-round series with the Minnesota Wild suggests that Quenneville will send out the status quo in Game 2 Sunday afternoon.
With Andrew Shaw's availability in question, the Blackhawks skipper may have to look to his reserves. If so, why not inject a fresh face into the third line? I'm talking about Jeremy Morin, who finished the regular season so impressively.
Shaw left Game 1 early in the contest with a lower-body injury after a big hit by the Wild's Clayton Stoner. He will have to be evaluated Saturday. At this point, Quenneville has listed Shaw as day to day, according to the report logged by Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago.
Losing Shaw for a few games is far from ideal. The gritty forward had four points in the last three games of the first round. His work around the net resulted in 20 goals in the regular season and his pestering presence is going to be hard to replace.
If he is ruled out for Sunday's game, Quenneville has several options. Either way, there will be a new face on the ice. Kris Versteeg, who has been a scratch in favor of rookie Joakim Nordstrom that last two games, could re-enter the lineup.
Peter Regin could be used to give Quenneville another option at center. Quenneville could also turn to the 23-year-old Morin, who is capable of giving the Hawks a bit of the edge Shaw usually brings to the team.
Morin is not the opportunist in front of the net that Shaw is, but he plays a hard-nosed game. He proved to be adept at bringing pucks out of the corners in six appearances late in the season.
Morin does get to the net and has the hands to finish plays. On the third line with Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger, Morin could help create some matchup problems for the Wild. With a defensive-minded center like Kruger flanked by two skaters who can go get the puck, that group could find the net a time or two.
Morin has been called up on four separate occasions in 2013-14. His latest tour of duty started late in March. Morin had an assist for Chicago in its 3-2 shootout victory April 3, digging a puck out of the corner and setting up Bryan Bickell.
Quenneville's recent history suggests that he may go with Versteeg and his postseason experience if Shaw is unable to play Sunday. Morin, however, could find himself with a big chance to prove his playoff mettle if Quenneville calls his number in Game 2.
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