Blackhawks, It's Time To Shake Things Up: Analyzing Chicago's Line Changes
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After 10 games, the Chicago Blackhawks currently sit at a record of 5-4-1 with 11 points.
However coach Joel Quenneville obviously thinks something needs to be changed and has gone back to the drawing-board with his team's lines.
Here are the brand new lines:
Jack Skille/Jonathan Toews/Patrick Sharp
Troy Brouwer/Tomas Kopecky/Marian Hossa
Viktor Stalberg/Dave Bolland/Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell/Jake Dowell/Fernando Pisani
Top Line Analysis:
Patrick Sharp has been fantastic so far this season with 8 goals and 11 points in only 9 games. He is widely regarded as having been Chicago's best player so far this young season.
Jonathan Toews is the team's captain and leading play-maker so he retains his spot, but Patrick Kane is gone.
Widely tipped to contend for the The Rocket Richard this year, Kane has only 2 goals and 5 assists in 9 games and a woeful -7 +/- rating. Not good.
Quenneville has installed the 2005 #7 overall pick Jack Skille as his replacement, at least until Kane's play improves.
Skille only has 2 assists with 9 minutes a game compared to Kane's 18.
My take: Probably the right decision to drop Kane until he works his way back up, but the third line might have been a bit harsh. Also, I was surprised to see Skille make the jump from the 4th line to the 1st.
2nd Line Analysis:
It's a simple case of Tomas Kopecky and Dave Bolland having swapped places.
Kopecky has 8 points in 9 games and should work well with Marian Hossa who has been very impressive so far this year with 7 goals and 4 assists in all 10 games.
Troy Brouwer remains on the second line.
My take: Kopecky has earned the second center position with some excellent play this season and should excel playing alongside Marian Hossa.
3rd Line Analysis:
The third line has seen the biggest change of all of Chicago's lines.
Viktor Stalberg has jumped up from the fourth line despite only notching 2 assists in 9 games.
Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane have been dropped from higher lines. Both of them have been very inconsistent with Kane's woeful +/- rating and Bolland's abysmal 41.4% face-off percentage.
My take: Stalberg deserves better minutes, even if he hasn't been lighting the lamp so far. Dave Bolland definitely deserves to be dropped, as he hasn't been playing like a second line center. I also think it might be good for Kane to spend some time on the third line so he's motivated enough to get back onto the top lines.
4th Line Analysis:
I was surprised to see Bickell on the 4th line after his 5 points in 10 games, but there simply isn't enough room for him anywhere else.
Dowell looks most likely to be the enforcer on this team, with Fernando Pisani dropping to the 4th line after recording a big, fat 0 points in 10 games.
My take: Typical 4th line here with an enforcer (Dowell) etc. but the biggest news is Pisani being dropped to the 4th line. Not surprising with his poor play so far this year.
Overall Take: I mainly like the changes brought in by Joel Quenneville.
He has rewarded the players playing well (Kopecky) while also sending out messages to under-peforming players (Kane, Pisani) saying that if you aren't up to it, you won't get the big minuets.
I think "Coach Q" has made the right decision here and shook things up, especially as the Blackhawks were, to an extent, under-performing.
The first team to go up against the "New Look" Blackhawks are the Los Angeles Kings who travel to the United Center tonight.
Only after the match will we be able to see if the line changes have made any difference.
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