There were many reasons for the Stanley Cup dreams of the Chicago Blackhawks being cut short. One of the major factors that contributed to their elimination was the inability to run four lines on a night to night basis. Some would even contend that they couldn’t run three quality lines but that’s not the point of this article.
The four line isn’t known for producing superstars or difference makers, but it does have it’s purpose. When the Blackhawks won the Cup in 2013, it was because of the ability to play four lines at any given time in the game and trusting that line to get the job done. In 2014, that wasn’t the case and it was on the shoulders of 6-8 players to push the Hawks into the Finals (which they almost did).
In 2014-2015, the Blackhawks need to get back to their old ways. They need to get back to rotating four lines. Four lines makes it very hard to match-up against the Hawks. It also allows for players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to get much need rest. And it seems like General Manager Stan Bowman is putting the Hawks in that position.
Bowman moved 4th line (and Coach Q) favorite Brandon Bollig to Calgary, removing a pest that hurt more than he helped during his days in Chicago. The re-signing of Peter Regin and Jeremy Morin also symbolized a return to the old ways.
A four line that consists of Peter Regin at center with Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin on the wings, is better than a number of 3rd lines in the NHL.
The Blackhawks need to be able to match-up four lines deep with teams like the LA Kings, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars. Playing Morin and Regin can help achieve that goal. Will it be perfect? No, it’s missing the size to be able to enforce if need be. But the Hawks have Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell, two guys who have no problem throwing themselves around.
Being able to play four lines deep is more important than being able to enforce, those are just the facts. It was why the Hawks didn’t re-sign Michal Handzus. It was also why the Hawks brought in Brad Richards. Depth matters, the 2014 playoffs proved that. The Hawks have taken notice and are trying to add to an already good roster to make them even deeper and even better.