So here we go again. The Chicago Blackhawks are showing off new forward lines heading into tonight’s tilt with the Ottawa Senators.
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s famous line blender is in mix mode again to produce these lines for tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators:
Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Tommy Wingels
Tomas Jurco-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Alex DeBrincat-Nick Schmaltz-Anthony Duclair
Vinnie Hinostroza-David Kampf-Ryan Hartman
Of course, there is much to do about this on social media. While there is some sense to these lines, there is no clear-cut top line. There is a weak link one every line. So what’s the method to this madness?
Well, maybe not in the sense of it being Kane’s night. But with the ‘Hawks basically out of playoff contention, it’s time to showcase some moveable parts. And those are Wingels and Jurco. Both of these players are moveable in different ways.
Wingels has been an unexpected bright spot for the ‘Hawks this season. He has played a relentless style of hockey every game. He’s established himself as a solid forechecker who can help drive possession, and as a solid penalty killer. His work ethic should be emulated by other players on this team.
He finds himself on the top line by merit of his hard work and to be showcased as a valuable asset for a playoff contending team. He was not an attractive acquisition, but the hometown native has shown what has paid his meal ticket in an NHL career.
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Losing him in a trade would be unfortunate, as not many ‘Hawks players have played with consistent intensity as he has. But this is a team in a rebuild, so acquiring prospects or draft picks is a priority.
Jurco has been the new David Rundblad, the guy you trade for by giving up a decent future draft pick and then overvalue. Outside of some brilliant YouTube stick-trick videos, Jurco has failed to live up to expectations. He is your pleasantly ineffective forward who looked good trying but didn’t quite make a play.
Jurco is slotted with established top-six forwards Anisimov and Kane in what I see as his last chance to prove he is an NHL forward. By playing him with two proven forwards, Coach Q eliminates any possible excuses for inefficiency.
He also could be traded before the deadline, but more likely he will be non-tendered as a restricted free agent if he doesn’t impress now.
I enjoy a good cocktail, but this latest mix of forwards doesn’t bode well for an entertaining game tonight. For entertainment value, I’d really like to see a DeBrincat-Toews-Kane top line, followed by a Hinostroza-Schmaltz-Duclair speed line. But that’s just me. See you in the 300s.