The Chicago Blackhawks are the last seed in the western conference going into the 24-team playoff against the Oilers. Which players will be out there on the ice for Game 1?
The Chicago Blackhawks are back in the playoffs, which is great for hockey. For a while, they were the team that teams needed to get through to get to the Stanley Cup. The examples being Vancouver in 2011, Los Angeles in 2014, and Nashville in 2017.
This time around, the Blackhawks are in a different situation, a situation we haven’t seen before. It will now come down to winning three games against the Oilers, a team that on paper is better than the Blackhawks. But, the number of playoff veterans on the Blackhawks outmatch the Oilers.
Looking at the roster, there will be some players who are going to be healthy enough to play. Those expectations could be Andrew Shaw or Calvin de Haan. It also has given time for Duncan Keith to rest and become stronger for this playoff run, along with other older veterans.
It looks like Chicago will be running on Duncan yet again this playoff run.
Still, there’s a roster to predict for Game 1, a roster with a few holes that could be fixed with a player like Shaw coming back to play in the playoffs.
Line 1: Kubalik-Toews-Saad
Line 2: DeBrincat-Strome-Kane
Line 3: Nylander-Dach-Shaw
Line 4: Carpenter-Kampf-Caggiula
For starters, I truly like that second line combination. The Blackhawks need to get Alex DeBrincat back with Dylan Strome for them to both be at their best. If they add Patrick Kane to that line, there will be a lot of goals scored between the three in Round 1.
The third line is a stretch, as there is no talk of Andrew Shaw returning for the playoffs. I am expecting him to play if he can, as he is perfect for this team when it comes to a playoff run. If he can stay healthy, I’d love to see him back.
My only concern with these lines is the fourth line, I don’t love it. Drake Caggiula has played well in Chicago, mostly with Jonathan Toews though. If that line were to struggle, swapping Caggiula and Brandon Saad might happen.
Line 1; Keith-Boqvist
Line 2: Maatta-Murphy
Line 3: de Haan-Koekkoek
I like all three of these defensive pairings, while I do find the third line to be the weakest. If Ian Mitchell were to make his debut, I could very well see him be put into a role with Adam Boqvist, possibly moving either Slater Koekkoek or Calvin de Haan to Duncan Keith’s line.
If the defense can hold up in Round 1, it won’t be an embarrassment like Nashville was. If the Blackhawks can get past the Oilers, this should be an interesting playoff run.