Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ 5 Questions Heading Into All-Star Break

By Colin Likas
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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What moves can be made to boost the bottom six?

This has been an area filled with question marks all season. A little bit of clarity gets put into play when Marcus Kruger returns, perhaps tonight. But it’s still a bit of a mess, with Marian Hossa technically playing on the bottom six right now.

I think guys you’d be happy with having in the bottom six are Kruger, Vincent Hinostroza, Dennis Rasmussen, Tanner Kero, Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik. Long-term, I don’t think Hartman and Panik are guys you want to hold top-line spots, though they’ve fared better with Jonathan Toews in the last couple games.

Andrew Desjardins is showing little flashes here and there, but he’s still without a point this season, and the Blackhawks need offensive push out of the bottom six. If you’ve read any of my stuff, you know I don’t think Jordin Tootoo should be anywhere near the starting lineup.

So that’s six guys to choose from. Perfect. Except, then there’s Nick Schmaltz and the possibility of Tyler Motte returning.

Now, there’s a chance these guys are involved in trade negotiations at the deadline, which I guess you could say for some of the other names above, too. But that’s at least eight guys I’d say the Blackhawks should feel comfortable rolling on their bottom six moving forward.

So honestly? I don’t think the Blackhawks have to make any moves to improve their bottom six, minus a recall of Motte. They just have to stay healthy, get the lines organized and get Desjardins and Tootoo stapled to the press box wall.

Of course, this leaves a hole at the top of the lineup. So let’s address that question next.

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