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Chicago Blackhawks' New Line 'Discovery' Gives the Team New Life

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 28: Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks reacts after scoring against the Los Angeles Kings in the first period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 28, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bill Smith/Getty Images
Matt EurichAnalyst IMay 29, 2014

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville is no stranger to adjusting his line pairings, and he may have discovered one on Wednesday night that has given his team new life. 

After posting just one assist against the Los Angeles Kings in the first four games, Quenneville decided to put the slumping Patrick Kane on a line with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw.

The Blackhawks came away with a 5-4 double-overtime victory, due in large part to the success of the Kane, Sadd and Shaw line.

Shaw finished with two assists, Saad with one goal and two assists and Kane finished with four assists en route to being named the game's No. 1 star.

Quenneville praised the effort from his new line during his postgame news conference and admitted that putting those three together might have been a "discovery."

Quenneville's discovery sounds like something he wants to keep together for quite some time.

Despite being the No. 1 star, Kane admitted after the game that he wasn't the best player on the ice.

"Personally, I thought Saader was the best player on the ice tonight," Kane said to reporters after the game, via ESPN.com. "He was bringing so much speed and puck protection." 

It would be hard to argue that Saad wasn't the best player on the ice Wednesday night. He tallied a team-high seven shots on goal, had one goal, two assists, three takeaways, two blocked shots, three hits, was a plus-four and won four of his eight faceoffs.

After the game, Saad simplified their game plan to the media.

After struggling at times this season with Michal Handzus centering one of their lines, it was strangely fitting that the veteran scored the game-winner off of assists from both Kane and Saad.

Handzus has struggled throughout the playoffs but has been effective on the penalty kill, and he understands what his role is.

"I want to help the team as much as I can," Handzus told the media. "I'm playing on the PK a lot. I'm not playing very well offensively. I'm glad I came through."

He came through at the 2:02 mark of the second overtime when he took a pass from Saad up the middle and knocked a backhanded goal past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. 

"Saad, two guys went on him and I got open," Handzus said. "I was surprised I got open like that but he waited and waited and gave me a great pass."

The Blackhawks will not have to wait long to see their new line back in action as they will head to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Friday night.

For a team that has been struggling to score goals and carry momentum offensively, the Saad, Shaw and Kane line showed on Wednesday night that if nothing else, they can provide a spark on the ice. 

Saad knows that Wednesday's victory only gets them one step closer, but he did acknowledge that the pressure has now been placed on the Kings.

The Blackhawks have been preaching that they are taking a one-game-at-a-time approach to this series, and if Quenneville's new line "discovery" can play in Game 6 like it did in Game 5, the road to a Stanley Cup may have gotten that much more difficult for the Los Angeles Kings.

 

All stats courtesy of NHL.com.  

Matt Eurich is an NFL/Chicago Bears Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow @MattEurich.

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