Apr 3, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin (25) battles for the puck with Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) during the overtime period at the United Center. The Blackhawks won 3-2 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Markus Kruger will play a very important role helping the Blackhawks gain and control puck possession during this first series vs the Blues. Kruger has done great on the face-off dot this year achieving a 56.7%, which to note, is only .6 behind Jonathan Toews. He also contributed with 8 goals this season (2 being game winners) and 20 assists, so he has some offensive potential. A goal or an assist from him during the series could spark a reaction and potentially raise an eye of Quenneville to switch him with Handzus on that second line.
Brandon Saad will be in the spotlight during this first series positioned on the top line with Toews and Versteeg. Last year he did not have much of a role in the playoffs, where he only put up 1 goal and 4 assists. After putting up great numbers on the year with 19 goals, 28 assists, and a +20 he will need to do the same during this first series. The focus will first be finding that chemistry with the new line that Quenneville seems to have a special hunch for. Recently when questioned about the line change he stated “We feel Saad is capable of playing against top guys.” “He’s played with Jonny a lot the last couple years. Versteeg as well has played in some big situations. We’ll see how that all works out — certainly has the capability of working well together. Versteeg did play a little bit with Toews and Saad there recently. That line looked pretty good together.”