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Chicago Blackhawks: Ideal Forward Lines

By Gail Kauchak
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Oct 30, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates with forward Marian Hossa (81) after scoring a goal during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s face it.  As Chicago Blackhawk’s fans, we all have ideas about who we think should be out on the ice together.  What combination of players would give the most punch?  Who would have the best chemistry, and provide more goals?

The beauty/frustration of being a Chicago Blackhawk’s fan is that these forward lines are changing all the time.  Coach Quenneville loves to mix things up, all in the name of finding the best combinations.   We scratch our heads at a lot of things.  But in the end, Coach Q usually figures out a scenario that gets his team to the playoffs, and gives them a chance to make a run for that big silver chalice.

But it’s a long season, and it sure is fun to play coach for a day and make some projections.  So without further ado, here are my ideal forward lines.  I’ll post them first, and then explain myself below.

Teravainen-Toews-Hossa

Panarin-Anisimov-Kane

Garbutt-Kruger-Shaw

Desjardins-Kero-Dano

In the last contest against the Vancouver Canucks, Coach Q had Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa split up, with Hossa on the third line.  Enough of this tomfoolery!  Those two have been playing together forever; and they have great chemistry.  They just need a consistent left winger that can keep up with them.  Which is where Teuvo Teravainen comes in.

The latest we heard about Teravainen was that his upper body injury was not serious, and he would only be out for a few games.  He didn’t play in the two tilts over the weekend; and the Hawks have a three day break before taking on the San Jose Sharks late Wednesday night.

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Hopefully TT is well enough to start, and I believe he should be given another shot on the first line.  We all know he has talent.  We all know he has great vision and finesse with the puck.  He was a very important part of last year’s playoffs, coming through with goals at just the right times.

But he was on the third line during the playoffs, you say.  Yes, but remember his linemates?  Patrick Sharp and Antoine Vermette (Ah, the depth the Hawks used to have)!  Those are two very talented players.  Teravainen’s skillset is that of a top six forward.  Let him be one!  If TT can flank Toews and Hossa for more than just a game or two, I think some magic could happen.

Moving on to the second line; I toyed with the idea of breaking this trio up.  After all, they are the top three scorers on the team. Patrick Kane has 32 points, Artemi Panarin has 21 points, and Artem Anisimov has 15 points.  Why not spread the wealth and create more balance?  Panarin could be a potential candidate for the first line.

And he did play there while Hossa was out for a few games.  But he expressed that he had some trouble communicating with Toews.   So I went ahead and kept him with fellow Russian Anisimov, and Kane.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The third and fourth lines got a little more complicated.  Coach Q has put Marcus Kruger out to center the third line with Tanner Kero to center the fourth line for the last couple games.  In theory, the third line is more of the scoring line, and the fourth line more of a shutdown line.

Kero lit up the AHL with goals, which was one of the main reasons he was brought up.  So shouldn’t he be on the third line?  But Kruger is obviously the more experienced of the two, and should be able to take on more responsibility and playing time.  I’m going to trust the Coach on this one.

In regards to left wing, Ryan Garbutt and Andrew Desjardins are both left wingers; so for goodness sakes put them there!  They are having enough trouble as it is.   Don’t add to it by putting them on the right side.

I put Garbutt on the third line and Desjardins on the fourth simply because Garbutt has been playing better than Desi of late.  But that doesn’t mean these two couldn’t eventually be swapped.  Desi, Krugs, and Shaw were pretty dynamic in the playoffs last year.  I’m sure they would love to recapture that.  This could provide incentive for Desjardins to pick up his game.

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Finally, Andrew Shaw is best utilized on the wing and in more of a grinding role.  As I mentioned above, he and Kruger had some great chemistry in the playoffs.  So keeping at least two of that trio together makes sense.

Why is Marko Dano relegated to the fourth line?  Well, I personally don’t think he’s ready for the top line just yet.  First off, he’s a natural right winger, and the first line needs someone on the left.  Also, he’s young and inexperienced and on a brand new team.  Give him a chance to get acclimated.  He’s a diamond in the rough.  Let him gain some confidence against inferior opponents, and then work his way up.

This leaves Brandon Mashinter and Viktor Tikhonov as the odd men out.  I’ve already discussed that Mashinter has little to offer.  And unfortunately for Tikhonov, there are better players in front of him.  There has been some discussion about Bryan Bickell being brought back up. But both Quenneville and Stan Bowman are being very vague on that subject.  So I don’t think that is happening anytime soon.

Things change and adjustments have to be made all the time.  But right now, this is what I see as being the best lineup moving forward.

What do you think Blackhawks fans?  What would be your ideal forward lines?  Feel free to leave your comments in the section below.

Next: Central Division Update

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