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Joel Quenneville’s Top Line Auditions Are Failing

By Keith Schultz
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Joel Quenneville is doing his best to ruin the top line of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first four games of the season (I know he has won 3 Stanley Cups in Chicago and should always be given the benefit of the doubt).  He has two Hall of Famers on the top line that oh by the way they are two of the best two-way players in the NHL to boot, but his stubbornness is costing the Hawks production from what should be a one of the most productive lines in the NHL.

In four games, Toews and Hossa both have 2 assists to their credit and that’s all.  For what was nicknamed the lottery line in training camp, Joel Quenneville has turned them into basically the best checking line in the NHL for the first week of the season.

Now they are having auditions for the coveted wing which heading into the season looked like Andrew Shaw‘s to lose, but on Gameday of Game #1 Teuvo Teravainen was place on the top line with a successful debut.  The only problem with Teuvo on the top line (which he scored in Game #1) is that it puts Andrew Shaw as one of your centers instead of a wing which #65 is best suited for.

Game #2 had Shaw enter the Top line spot followed by Ryan Garbutt in Game #3.  Garbutt was ok in Game #3 but last night in the first two periods, he was not noticeable at all on the “lottery line”.

Of course with the Hawks getting shutout in the third period, so Coach Q put Viktor Tikhonov on the top line with mixed results.  Tikhonov went to the net on every occasion which I liked a lot, but as we all know wasn’t able to cash in.  The problem with Tikhonov being up there is the same with having Shaw on the top line or Garbutt, they all are grinders without the high end ceiling of talent to play consistently with Toews and Hossa.

Let’s go back to training camp, and the one player that could play with the Hall of Famers was Marko Dano.  He’s in the Brandon Saad mold with an extremely high ceiling, but the problem is something happened with Coach Q watching that made him sour on the youngster very quickly.

The news out of camp was Toews and Hossa said they needed to up their games to catch up with Dano, but all it took was Dano to get caught watching one play and the next thing you know he needed to learn the system in Rockford.

Everyone will probably say this is for the best, because it worked out for Teuvo last season, but the problem is it’s not working in Chicago right now.  The Hawks have one line that’s producing and putting pucks on net and with the exception of last night putting pucks in the net.

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The Hawks need 4 lines rolling, and when your not getting your top line going it creates issues all the way down the roster.

I’m not saying it’s panic time, but through four games it’s becoming crystal clear that the answer to who plays with Toews and Hossa isn’t currently on the roster right now.  Too many grinders and 4th line guys right now, it’s already time for Joel Quenneville to make a call to Rockford and see what the kid Dano can do on his lottery line.

What do you think? Too early for making such a move or is it time already?

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