The Saad Case For Carcillo On The Top Line

Feb 25, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Daniel Carcillo (13) sits on the bench during the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s pretty easy to tell that Coach Joel Quenneville is superstitious since he has started the same lineup every game this season except when Brent Seabrook missed a couple games because of injury.Each game starts with Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith in the  lineup.   In St Louis the same starting lineup lit the lamp 12 seconds into the game yet all it took was a couple of shifts and the next thing you know there is Daniel Carcillo on the top line with 19 and 81.

One of the reasons I believe that the Hawks have started out so strongly is the less hands on approach by Coach Q this season.  Coach Q usually chases matchups and juggles line regularly nightly but this season he has played status quo without chasing the matchup because he likes all four lines.  He has not juggling lines because even if each line wasn’t showing up on the scoresheet they were providing pressure and not giving up goals on their shifts.  Stability and trust seems to have provided most of the core for the “Streak” and the consistent play throughout the first month and a half of the season.

The thing ,that if you want to nit pick after going 20 games without a loss, is since the Carbomb has returned from injury is how bad Coach wants to reinsert him to the top line. The argument is it gives the opposition something in their back of their minds to think about before they take runs at two of the Hawks biggest offensive superstars who have missed games in the past from concussions.  Nobody wants to deal with a maniac on skates so people playing the Hawks will have keep their heads on a swivel instead of trying to make runs at our two top guns.  The question is will the offensive production of this line decrease without have Brandon Saad on the line because even though Carcillo is a fast skater he is not a highly skilled offensive player.

Saad was certainly growing game by game into a compliment to Hossa and Toews and although pucks were not getting in the net he was providing  all the skills of 2-way player that everyone had envisioned. The only thing that seems to be missing from his game his the dreaded “physical presence”.  The biggest hit I’ve seen him make was last night and it was an accident.  Saad to stay with the top guys needs to throw his weight around a little bit more.  I just hate seeing him lining up with Brandon Bollig late in the game on the 4th line.  Saad is skilled enough offensively and defensively to play with any line but I prefer him with the skilled guys nightly then playing with the grinders.

I’m not the coach and Q is with these guys every day, but from this point of view the top line is better with 20 instead of Carcillo with the exception of the physical presence.  I know it’s a minor point in a season when the record shows 17-0-3. What do you think is the physical presence that big of a deal that Carcillo should be protecting Toews and Hossa?

Who Should play with Toews and Hossa on the top line?

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Topics: Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks, Daniel Carcillo

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  • JMK-Hawks13

    Saad belongs up there no doubt, fast, skilled and smart puts anyone top 6. As I stated in the wrap up, carcillo is fast enough and has enough support skills to still be a benefit to the top line, while protecting them. I really don’t want to see carcillo up there every other shift, but I don’t mind seeing him injected there occasionally to show that we’re not taking crap from anybody. Right now the biggest liability to hawks winning are the bad penalties. Saad took a few in the Edmonton game, and Shaw took a few dumb ones, unnecessary risks are an issue. That issue is why I don’t want carcillo playing top line minutes. He gets to involved in bs, and once his fuse dwindles, bad things happen for everyone. I’m not complaining how Q has handled things, saad helps any line, and carcillo brings Different look to the first, but that strategy should be used sparingly.

    • Tony Scharf

      I agree. I prefer Saad as well, however I see what Q is doing. He doesn’t have to have Carbomb play every shift – just enough that the opposition doesn’t want to take the chance that its Carbomb instead of Saad. Also, I think that Q is minimizing the risk of playing Carcillo by keeping his minutes down. This also gives Saad a little rest because he *is* still a kid and making that NHL transition (though he has done exceptionally well at that).

      I think so long as Saad isn’t going to be that physical presence (yet) and Carbomb isn’t blowing things up and taking dumb penalties (has he been in the box even once yet? He seems to be behaving well..) then I don’t see this as a problem.