Chicago Blackhawks Roundtable: First Line And Goaltender Starts

By Colin Likas
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: Richard Panik
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: Richard Panik /
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CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 30: Alex DeBrincat
CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 30: Alex DeBrincat /

Kirk Bennett

Question 1: This is a question that I have pondered periodically since Panik was first introduced to the Toews line. Is he a first-line player? Sometimes when I’m thinking no, Panik will surprise by making a brilliant offensive play. But those times have been quite rare recently.

The line is getting its chances, mind you, but the trio has had difficulty finishing. Fortunately, Panik plays a two-way, gritty game which makes him suitable to play on any line. Hence, yes, I would try DeBrincat or John Hayden alongside Toews and Saad to see if the first line can get back on track.

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Which player should be moved up? I’d go with Cat for the time being and see how it goes. Of course, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I still think ‘Hawks are missing out by leaving Vinnie Hinostroza in Rockford, but I don’t see that promotion happening any time soon.

Q loves his seasoned players, even if they are plodding veterans … but I digress.

Question 2: I never thought I’d be answering this question today. I like what I have seen from both of these goalies, but admittedly I don’t know either very well. I imagine with Crawford on IR that Coach Q will treat Forsberg as the No. 1 goalie, playing Berube only when back-to-back situations arise.

Hopefully, Q’s leash won’t be too long as it sometimes is with Crawford and the head coach won’t hesitate to bring in Berube if Forsberg struggles. I’m hoping that this injury will be a wake-up call to the team and it won’t matter who is between the pipes.

Randy Holndoner

Question 1: I think it would be wise to split the top line by moving Panik to the third line and giving DeBrincat more ice time. Panik is struggling. Maybe a change in linemates will help him. DeBrincat obviously has no problems on any line he is put on.

Question 2: I think this is the time where they let Forsberg show what he has. Unless there is a back-to-back, or he proves he can’t handle the work haul, I say leave Berube on the bench. Let’s see if Forsberg can take this team on his shoulders.