Question 1: If you’ve got a Brandon Saad-led line on this team that isn’t producing, it’s definitely time for a shake-up. Saad is one of the Blackhawks’ better offensive weapons, and blunting his ability to produce is something the Blackhawks cannot afford.
I found it interesting that coach Joel Quenneville went to John Hayden last night in Richard Panik’s place, instead of someone like Alex DeBrincat or even Patrick Kane. Hayden seemed to spark the line, taking note of his promotion. But I’m not sure that’s the best option to create an effective top line offensively.
I think DeBrincat will ultimately end up on that top line sooner rather than later. There’s no reason to break up Saad and Toews, but Panik is in a rut. Time to try something else, especially with the team losing four straight.
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Question 2: I’d be curious to see how J.F. Berube performs for the Blackhawks, but given that Anton Forsberg actually looked pretty solid taking on back-to-back games, I’d like to give him as much run as possible.
Neither Forsberg nor Berube has much NHL experience, so it’s essentially a wash in that category. What it comes down to is who has the hot hand. That’s going to be Forsberg until further notice. I just miss Corey Crawford already.
Question 1: Definitely. I think for this team to have success in the postseason, if it gets there, Panik needs to be on the top line. Or another physical player with a scoring touch. But with how Panik is playing right now, he’s useless up there, quite frankly.
Hayden got a shot next to Toews and Saad during the L.A. game and looked good. Q could look to Schmaltz up there, slotting DeBrincat on the second line, or he even could move DeBrincat into Panik’s spot.
I think DeBrincat deserves a shot in the top six, and now is a good time to give him a look. Theres always Hinostroza and (later on) Sikura to slot in somewhere in the lineup, too, it’s nice that they have some options.
Question 2: I think Q should definitely keep riding Forsberg, unless his play or an injury (god forbid) force his hand otherwise. He has been playing solid in Crawford’s absence, and he deserves a better record than what he has. Other than the shootout Saturday night in Dallas, Forsberg has looked great. I’m not saying anything is wrong with Berube necessarily, I don’t know much about him. I just think Forsberg gives this team the best chance to win right now with Crawford out.