Question 1: With the injury to Nick Schmaltz, it changes the whole dynamic of the team. We’re likely to see Artem Anisimov moved up to the second line and Tommy Wingels inserted into the third-line center position. Here’s how I’d like to see the lines:
Question 2: Edmonton has always been a challenge for the ’Hawks. Their youth and speed force the Blackhawks to defend a lot more than they want to.
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The ‘Hawks are so familiar with the Blues, Wild and Preds that I don’t see those games having too many surprises. But all the Canadian teams that the Blackhawks see far less often could give them fits — and hopefully vise versa.
Question 1: Ryan Hartman should remain at left wing on the No. 2 line. He’s a physical force who has already proven he belongs in that slot. He can crash the net and be a net presence while Kane wreaks havoc elsewhere long the ice.
Nothing against DeBrincat, but he needs to develop a bit more and get used to the pace of the NHL. His mind is there, but some of his passes are not quite there yet. Experience will come, and he can get that on the third line.
Question 2: It may seem like a homer pick, but I think that Nashville will be the test. The Preds are who swept them in the playoffs and tossed them aside like a wet rag.
This Blackhawks team was built to go up against teams like this, ones that beat them down before. The Preds had no hesitation when crossing the ’Hawks’ line last season because their defense was smaller and not intimidating. I think they have been waiting for Nashville since that series ended.