2. Losses on the Top 6. Artemi Panarin was out with an illness for the tilts against the Sharks and the Stars. He absence was definitely felt, as the Hawks struggled on offense. The chemistry between Patrick Kane and Panarin is something that no one else seems to be able to compete with. Even though Teuvo Teravainen and Richard Panik gave it a shot on the left wing of the second line, it simply wasn’t the same.
Now Marian Hossa has been sidelined with a lower body injury for an undetermined amount of time. These losses have brought to the forefront the issue that no one has successfully been able to fill the shoes of Brandon Saad among the top 6 forwards. It is a situation that could definitely rear its ugly head as games get more and more competitive, and into the playoffs. I’m not sure how the Chicago Blackhawks will be able to remedy this situation.
1. Who will step up? With that being said, the Hawks will be forced to try their hand with some different looks among the top 6 forwards. The most obvious choice is Teuvo Teravainen. After all, he is touted to have the skill of a top forward, even though he played mostly on the third line in his time with the Chicago Blackhawks. On Saturday, Teravainen was actually demoted to the fourth line for the most of the game.
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When TT played on the second line for the Sharks game (replacing Panarin), he looked very unsure of himself. It seems to be a confidence issue with him. He has the skill, but he just needs to believe in himself. With Hossa out, perhaps he can fill in and build some chemistry with his new linemates, and some confidence that he belongs there going forward.
Other players to watch are Richard Panik and Andrew Desjardins. Both of these forwards got a chance to play in Hossa’s spot after he went down. There are many different scenarios as to how the lines might play out. But the long and the short of it is that someone will have a chance to step up.
The Chicago Blackhawks have one more game at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs (tonight) before taking the show on the road again this week. Will they be able to snap out of their funk? Can they manage some offense, even with Hossa out? What new players will be able to step up? Can the defense find some consistency? Will Corey Crawford be able to keep up his stellar play?
These are all questions that we will simply have to watch and see how/if they are resolved. Never a dull moment!
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