Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville probably isn’t worried about making sure his team is more entertaining in Game 4 than they were in Game 3. Instead, he’s hoping to avoid another effort like the one that resulted in a 4-0 win by the Minnesota Wild.
Attribute it to experimentation, the Wild getting the last change or any number of factors, but it looks like he’s shuffling things up quite a bit, as NHL.com reports.
The once-red-hot line of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell may look quite different as Ben Smith skated in Kane’s spot. Kane gets bumped down to a line with Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger while there’s the “third line” of Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa. (Or would Kane’s line be the third line in this alignment?)
There’s always the chance that Quenneville was just messing around with different combos before going back to different lines tonight. It’s also far from unusual for a coach to make tweaks during a game.
Players like Smith note to NHL.com that they’re quite comfortable with all the chances.
“All we can really do is prepare the way we had [the lines on Friday morning] and we’ll see what happens,” Smith said. “I think I have played with everyone this season, so it makes it a little easier. We’re always prepared for that because that is the way it is. It keeps us guessing, keeps us in the game and keeps us involved.”
The lower-level move of note is that Kris Versteeg is being replaced by Jeremy Morin.
On the defensive side, Niklas Hjalmarsson is expected to play despite skipping the morning skate while Nick Leddy returns with Sheldon Brookbank being lost in the shuffle.