To nobody’s surprise, Coach Q flipped on the line blender this morning at Blackhawks practice, the day after a disappointing 5-2 loss to St. Louis at United Center.
Per Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, when the ‘Hawks take on the Predators tomorrow in Nashville, you can expect to see Artemi Panarin bumped up to Jonathan Toews‘ line, with Tyler Motte coming up to fill Panarin’s spot with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov.
Marian Hossa did not practice today, but is still expected to play against the Preds. It remains to be seen where he’ll skate, if it’s with Toews and Motte, or if he’ll take Motte’s spot on the third line. (Toews and Motte were flanked by Richard Panik at practice, so Hossa to the third line is a decent bet.)
Suffice to say, it was not a good start to the season for the Blackhawks, who lost the special teams battle with the Blues and were also outplayed at even strength. Chicago’s fourth line, comprised of Vince Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz, and Jordin Tootoo only received limited ice time, but when they did get out there the puck was almost exclusively in Chicago’s end. (Tootoo, who logged just 4:26 last night, could see his spot taken by Dennis Rasmussen against the Preds.)
Granted, it’s only been one game, but this was the worry for the Blackhawks. That they would have trouble replacing the likes of Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Ladd. That their bottom six, comprised mostly of youngsters, would be a weakness.
Four Blackhawks made their NHL debuts last night, two of them forwards (Motte and Schmaltz) and two on defense (Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny). Forwards Hinostroza and Ryan Hartman barely have any NHL experience either.
“There’s definitely some learning going on,” head coach Joel Quenneville conceded after the loss, per AP.
“We didn’t do a whole lot of what we wanted to. Just our energy, speed and work ethic wasn’t quite there,” Toews said, per CSN Chicago. “So we have to regroup, try to come with that energy in the next one and obviously play a little bit smarter too. … As a group, we weren’t good enough tonight.”