Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Bottom Six Still Has To Take Shape

By Gail Kauchak
Feb 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (center) celebrates scoring a goal with right wing Patrick Kane (left) and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (right) ) during the third period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (center) celebrates scoring a goal with right wing Patrick Kane (left) and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (right) ) during the third period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
1 of 3
Feb 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (center) celebrates scoring a goal with right wing Patrick Kane (left) and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (right) ) during the third period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (center) celebrates scoring a goal with right wing Patrick Kane (left) and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (right) ) during the third period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

While the Chicago Blackhawks have a solid group in their top-six forwards, their bottom-six forwards are still a work in progress. How will this pan out for the playoffs?

Outside losses against Anaheim and Detroit, the Chicago Blackhawks have won four of six games in March. This comes after being victorious in nine of 10 contests in February. It goes without saying that the ’Hawks are rounding into shape at just the right time. They’re in the home stretch, with a playoff berth once again on the horizon.

The top two forward lines seem pretty set. Nick Schmaltz didn’t have the best game Sunday against the Minnesota Wild, although I still think he will remain on the top line in the long run. But the question remains, how will the bottom-six forward lines pan out?

To make a deep playoff run, a team needs to have four lines rolling. Coach Joel Quenneville has been rotating people in and out of the lineup a lot lately. It’s still very much up in the air who will make up his third and fourth lines come playoff time. This is definitely something to keep an eye on as the regular season winds down.

It appears that the top two forward lines will consist of the following:

Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan ToewsRichard Panik

Artemi PanarinArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

These are two solid lines that are producing and have built chemistry together. As I alluded to above, Schmaltz had a bad turnover against the Wild on Sunday, and he was replaced for a time by Andrew Desjardins. But do you really see Desi playing on the first line come playoff time? I think not. Don’t mess with what seems to working pretty good right now.

facebooktwitterreddit