Apr 3, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) is congratulated for scoring by right wing Kris Versteeg (23) and left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Blackhawks are hitting their stride at exactly the right time. The Blackhawks have won three in a row and seems to be playing a more physical type of game. With the playoffs starting on April 14th, the Blackhawks are no faced with a GOOD problem. The problem is what will their line combinations be?
Only Coach Joel Quenneville and his staff ultimately knows what his line combinations will be, but I thought I would take my best stab at it.
Here are my line combinations:
1st line: Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp. This was the top line that enjoyed a lot of success early in the season. Hossa can help out defensively on this line if Toews is not 100 to start the playoffs. Sharp is having his best season and will give this line some speed.
Toews: 28 goals 40 assists, plus 26. Hossa: 28 goals, 29 assists, plus 25. Sharp: 33 goals 43 assists, plus 29.
2nd Line: Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad, and Patrick Kane. Kane is on the second line because Coach Quenneville does not put Kane and Toews together unless it an emergency. Shaw has been playing well since being elevated to the first line center. Shaw also gives this line a physical presence. Saad has been very good this season. Saad has taken the puck to the net with authority all season long. Saad might be the most underrated player on the Blackhawks this season. Kane is coming off an injury but should be able to jell with Shaw and Saad instantly.
Shaw: 19 goals 18 assists, plus 11. Saad: 19 goals 26 assist, plus 23. Kane: 29 goals, 40 assists, plus 7.
3rd line: Peter Regin, Jeremy Morin, and Bryan Bickell. Over the last three games this has been the best line for the Blackhawks. Regin has finally found his spot centering Morin and Bickell. Morin has provided the Blackhawks a physical presence and offensive spark. He has defended teammates in fights and crashes the net hard. Morin has been a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks and earned this spot. Bickell seems to heating up at the exactly the right time, if he gets going like last playoffs teams are in real trouble. This line also has the size and can be physical which is what the Blackhawks need. All three forwards on this line are over 6 feet tall.
Regin: 2 goals 2 assists, plus 6. Morin: 3 goals 6 assists, plus 5. Bickell: 11 goals, 3 assists, plus -4.
4th Line: Marcus Kruger, Ben Smith, and Brandon Bollig. The fourth line has been the most reliable line for the Blackhawks. They have been the best line for the Blackhawks. The scary thing about his line is Ben Smith. Ben Smith is only getting BETTER! Smith has shown over the last three games why he was on the playoff roster last season. Kruger has been great at face-offs all season and great on the penalty kill. Bollig has been an offensive surprise this season and needs to stay physical like he has the last few games.
Kruger: 8 goals, 20 assists plus 8. Smith: 13 goals, 12 assists, plus 5. Bollig: 7 goals, 7 assists, plus 2.
Players that are out: Kris Versteeg and Teuvo Teravainen. Versteeg has been a disappointment in his return to the Blackhawks. I believe that he does not win pucks in the corner and cannot capitalize on scoring chances. Teravainen still needs to adjust to the NHL game, I don’t think his game is bad, I think he is young and others are playing better.
There are MY line combinations. If you disagree please comment below.
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