For the Chicago Blackhawks their second pre-season game versus the Minnesota Wild is more important than many may think. Coach Denis Savard has a some key experiments going on during this their second pre-season games.
Experiment #1: Patrick Kane at Center
Denis Savard has decided to try Patrick Kane at the second line center position to fill the void left by Robert Lang. Kane had played center his entire life until he reached the U.S development program when he was switched to off wing (right wing).
Tonight Kane will be flanked by Patrick Sharp and Jack Skille, who would seem to be good choices for Kane to be paired with. Skille is a power forward that will help stop Kane from getting bullied and can pull his weight at the offensive end. Sharp was the leading goal scorer for the 'Hawks last season and worked extremely well last season when Kane was the right wing on the first line.
I think it is a great idea to at least try this in the pre-season because if it works then you don't have to worry about it Dave Bolland or Petri Kontiola are ready for 2nd line duties. Why not try it?
Experiment #2: The Keith Carney Experiment
Keith Carney is not the same Keith Carney that Chicago Blackhawks are familiar with from the 93-98 seasons but Carney is a good veteran defender that could help the Blackhawks stem the tide until James Wisnewski returns from his knee injury.
It seems as though Savard seems content with the Seabrook/Keith and Campbell/Barker pairings as his top two pairings so now he needs to find someone to pair with veteran defense-man Brent Sopel.
Savard could decide to go with youth in Niklas Hjalmarsson who looked very solid in his 13 games with the Blackhawks last season but the Blackhawks are already very inexperienced.
There has also been speculation that if Carney preforms well that the Blackhawks will look to move Brent Sopel, which makes no sense to me (see previous answer). If Sopel were to get moved the Blackhawks would lose their most consistent defender and weaken their third defensive pairing.
I am a Keith Carney fan and I think that for the right price he would be a welcomed addition to the Blackhawks blue line, especially if he is only going to be on your third pairing. Carney is only a roster invitee so if he performs poorly just send him on his way with a hand shake and a "thank you".
Experiment #3: The Aliu/Dowell/Beach Line
Tonight Denis Savard might be icing the best agitator line in recent memory. Two guys in Aliu and Beach who are know for having short fuses and the ability to just plain frustrate the other team into submission.
Jacob Dowell is no slouch either, he is a har-nosed player that is the perfect guy in the Blackhawks organization to center this line. Dowell played in 19 games with the Blackhawks last season and netted two goals, and assist and 10 penalty minutes.
Denis Savard is a genius for putting this line together for the home crowd tonight. If you thought that the Columbus/Chicago game was scrappy, this game could be far more physical purely with the presence of this line.
Tonight's game could really determine if the Beach or Aliu make this team, they are going to be asked to go out their and create energy. I guarentee you that the first time that line hits the ice the United Center will erupt in cheers.
Aside from the experiments that will be a big part of this game, the Chicago Blackhawks fans will get to see Christobal Huet for the first time in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform.
This is not just another pre-season game for the Chicago Blackhawks, this is also a game in which Denis Savard and the Chicago Blackhawks fans will see where this team is headed this season.