1. Fourth line is emerging. Last week it was the third line doing good things. They actually still are. But this past weekend it looked like the fourth line has finally started to emerge. Andrew Shaw has been centering the fourth line, and these last two games he’s had Andrew Desjardins and Richard Panik on his wings.
This trio has worked well together. In past games you could easily tell who was on the fourth line because they were the ones with less than 10 minutes of ice time. But against Winnipeg on Friday, all three of the above mentioned players notched over 10 minutes of time, with Panik having the least at 11:50 minutes.
On Sunday versus the Wild, Coach Q called them the most dangerous line on the ice. Shaw was being his usual feisty self, and he brought the energy back into the building with his goal late in the second period.
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Shortly thereafter, Panik scored a wrap-around goal of his own. That’s two goals in one night by the fourth line. They had a number of strong shifts where they created great pressure in the offensive zone. Panik’s solid play might have earned him a regular spot in the lineup over Brandon Mashinter. At least until Marcus Kruger comes back.
It’s not very clear if the Chicago Blackhawks still care about their original goal of finishing first place in the Central Division. If so, they have some work to do. Their loser point from Sunday gives them 91 points, which is still third in the Central Division. The St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Stars sit ahead of them, with 93 and 95 points respectively. And the Nashville Predators aren’t too far behind, with 85 points.
I for one would be happy if the Chicago Blackhawks finish in second place and at least have home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Third place wouldn’t be the end of the world either. First place might be a little unrealistic right now. Anything less than third is unacceptable.
Next up is the Dallas Stars this Tuesday at 7:30 pm. Nine more games, people. And then a whole new season begins. And the real fun starts!