Question 1: If John Hayden sticks around the Blackhawks into the postseason, I’d like him to be on the fourth line. In a perfect world, the ‘Hawks would go into the playoffs completely healthy, and that is certainly a possibility if everyone stays healthy while Artem Anisimov recovers.
I’d prefer the ‘Hawks to go into the playoffs with the same lines that were so dominant in February and early March. Hayden would be an upgrade at wing on the fourth line.
Question 2: Nick Schmaltz has fit like a glove centering the second line since Artem Anisimov went down. His game fits the creativity and speed of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin perfectly.
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With that being said, I’m still going to go with No 15 between those guys. That line has been one of the best if not the best line in hockey since it was formed last season. It’s great to have another center like Schmaltz who can step in between them and produce, but I’ll give Anisimov the benefit of the doubt as he has done nothing but produce since he’s been here.
Question 1: In his six games played with the Blackhawks, John Hayden has registered at least three or more hits in all of them. In his second game against Toronto, he had seven hits. So we know he can be that physical presence that’s usually associated with third- and fourth-liners.
He’s also already earned a goal and two assists in his very short time in the NHL. If he can provide that same offensive threat on the fourth line, this could be really dangerous. Put him on the right side where he’s most comfortable, and let him do his stuff.
Let’s face it; from what he’s shown so far, I think he’s a better option than Dennis Rasmussen, Andrew Desjardins, Jordin Tootoo or Tomas Jurco. And he shows composure and confidence. Give him a shot in the playoffs.
Question 2: The Ryan Hartman experiment didn’t work out, so I still think Nick Schmaltz is the best bet. As long as he doesn’t have to take many draws. In the last game, both Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger were being used for the initial faceoff, and then they would immediately switch for either Schmaltz or Artemi Panarin (whomever of that second line wasn’t already on the ice). It’s not ideal, but hopefully it’s a crutch that will work until Artem Anisimov returns.