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Chicago Blackhawks: Quenneville Should Retire Line Blender

By Keith Schultz
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Joel Quenneville has won three Stanley Cups behind the bench for the Chicago Blackhawks, and yet every year we get to this point of the season where fans are growing tiresome of the the Quenneville line blender. This season, it seems like the Coach Q line blender has been on from Day 1, with the exception of the second line of Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin.

The Chicago Blackhawks’ problem hasn’t been the second line, which has been highly consistent and been one of the most productive lines. And guess what. Quenneville has hardly messed with this line. Continuity of the line has made it productive, which is mind blowing, right? One could understand Q messing around with lines for training camp, preseason and the first couple of weeks to find combinations that work, but this is now the first week of December and the lines are still not working out.

Let’s look at last night and what we were told was the top line with Andrew Shaw, Ryan Garbutt and Jonathan Toews skating together. I’ll be honest, I like Shaw; he’s annoying, pestering and a nuisance. But Shaw isn’t a top-line winger. You can almost say the same about Garbutt except he doesn’t have the history with the Chicago Blackhawks. Grinders grind, which every team needs, but Toews is a world class player and needs to be playing with world class wingers.

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The Chicago Blackhawks will not win the Stanley Cup or make a deep run in the playoffs with a top line of Toews with Shaw and Garbutt. Then you look at one of Toews’ usual wingers, Marian Hossa, and he’s down on the third line with Marcus Kruger. People will say, “Why are you always bashing on Shaw and Kruger,” but I like Kruger on the bottom line or penalty kill — just not centering Hossa.

Lastly, the biggest reason Q needs to retire the line blender is he’s really screwing up Teuvo Teravainen. It feels like Teuvo has played every position on the ice, from top-line winger to bottom-line center, and it feels like his play is getting worse as a result, which shouldn’t be happening. This is supposed to be his season to break out after a great Stanley Cup playoff run, but some young players just cannot be moved around like some veterans can.  Teuvo needs a permanent spot in the lineup, whether it’s wing or center, top line or third line.

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My ideal lines right now would look like this:

Marko Dano-Jonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Artemi PanarinArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

Teuvo TeravainenTanner KeroRyan Garbutt

Andrew ShawMarcus KrugerAndrew Desjardins

I’ve seen enough Brandon Mashinter to know he should be in Rockford, and if it wasn’t for offseason hip surgery, Phillip Danault already would be in the mix as well. The ’Hawks need some offense outside of the second line, and Coach Q is the reason the goals have been so few outside of the second line.

What lines would you like to see? Are you tired of the blender?

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