Blackhawks News

The Hawks May Have Found Their Fourth Line

By Andrew Gregory

Dec 5, 2013; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Jeremy Morin (11) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

A big question going into training camp was how Coach Joel Quenneville was going to remodel the Blackhawks fourth line. Last year the grouping of line was usually Marcus Kruger, Ben Smith, and Brandon Bollig. Bollig was dealt in the offseason leaving room for somebody to fill that role. Jeremy Morin is a fan favorite to do so, and Brandon Mashinter is in the running as well, but after the performance from the line last night at the Blackhawks Training Camp Festival Scrimmage, the question may have finally been answered.

Morin, Smith, and Kruger took to the ice together last night, and by the end of the scrimmage, they looked like the most impressive line. The line finished with three goals, one from Morin, and two from Kruger. The first goal came on a nice passing play to set up Morin, and the other two in the third period from Kruger. The line seemed to mesh well, and had really good point production, which was a missing element of last year’s fourth line.

The fourth line last season was all about defense. Kruger is one of the best defensive forwards on the team, and is very reliable in the face-off dot. In the regular season, that line of Kruger, Smith, and Bollig started more than 50% of their shifts in the defensive zone, and often went up against the opponents top line.

Jeremy Morin is a good scorer with his sniper shot, so he adds an offensive element to that line. After the scrimmage, Morin mentioned in the post-game interviews that he had some familiarity playing with Kruger from their time in Rockford during the 2012-13 NHL Lockout, and that playing with that line was “fun”.

In his post-game press conference, Quenneville sent some mixed messages about how he wants the fourth line. He said that when that line scores, “it’s almost like a bonus”. He also said, though, that he thought the line needed a presence of physicality, and said that he is still going to try Mashinter on that line throughout the preseason, as well as Morin.

Although Coach Q isn’t quite sure yet, the fans certainly are. The call of #FreeMorin echoed throughout Twitter during, and after the game.

The first pre-season game for the Blackhawks will be tonight against Detroit.

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