3. Lineup Changes Need to be Made
The Blackhawks have been rolling four lines with little to no adjustments and this is a good thing… When the lineup is effective. So far, there have been three players who should have a seat in the stands for a couple games. These players are Mike Hardman, Jujhar Khaira, and Erik Gustafsson.
Khaira is a good fourth line player who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves when needed, but I expected more energy out of him the last couple of games. Reese Johnson is the typical fourth line grinder who throws 5-11 hits a game in the eight or so minutes he’s on the ice. I expected Khaira to bang a few more bodies than he has so far when that is all he is paid to do. Mike Hardman is barely noticeable on a nightly basis, neither scoring goals or laying the body. Gustafsson needs no reasoning to those who watch the games. Though he has good offense, his defense is still dreadful with missed reads and missed plays. That’s it.
I would like to see Adam Gaudette get another look in the lineup. He’s been sitting for way too long in my opinion and with some guys who are struggling right now Derek King may have to switch some players out. Caleb Jones should replace Gustafsson as his upside is higher and his defensive awareness is better as well.
I would also not be against a consistent line of Dylan Strome, Debrincat, Kane at some point this season.
In a game the Blackhawks should have lost, they ended up sneaking out a win with stellar play by Marc-Andre Fleury. They are scoring goals in different ways now, and are focused on winning instead of keeping a perfectionist system. The lineup may need some changes as some guys are struggling to make an impact, and for that reason I think that the front office may need to look into shaking up the lineup for the homestand.
Calgary looks to be another tough task for this team and the Blackhawks will need to be at their best to defeat them.