The Chicago Blackhawks earned a 6-4 victory against the Washington Capitals in their season opener, but their lines will still be a little different on Saturday.
Ben Smith, 25, is projected to play on the third line while Jimmy Hayes will probably be a healthy scratch.
“We want to get everybody in here the next few games before we get too far into the season,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenenville told the Chicago Tribune.
Smith is a former sixth round pick that’s been slowly working his way up the depth charts in recent years. He had 47 points in 54 AHL games last season and got his name on the Stanley Cup after replacing an injured Marian Hossa for one Stanley Cup Final game.
The Blackhawks entered the season with predominantly the same cast that captured the Cup mere months ago, but they did part ways with some of their complimentary players. That’s created an opportunity for Smith and Hayes to battle for a regular spot on the defending champions.