New lines (again) for the Blackhawks


New lines for the Chicago Blackhawks.

This is becoming a theme.

The ‘Hawks are in New Jersey to play the Devils tonight, and based on the combinations at this morning’s skate, Patrick Kane has been bumped up to play with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik.

Per Mark Lazerus of the Sun-Times, Kane’s usual spot with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov has been filled by Marian Hossa, while Tyler Motte drops from the first line to the third to play with Marcus Kruger and Ryan Hartman. The fourth line has Nick Schmaltz between Dennis Rasmussen and either Vincent Hinostroza or Jordin Tootoo.

Nobody should be surprised that coach Joel Quenneville continues to experiment. The ‘Hawks have stumbled out of the gates, winning just three of their first seven. Their last game saw them lose at home, 3-2 in the shootout, to the Calgary Flames. And their issues go beyond penalty killing.

Toews’ lack of production has been particularly noteworthy. He entered the season hoping to contribute more offensively, but so far has managed no goals with just two assists.

At five-on-five, Toews has skated mostly with Panik, who leads the team with six goals, and Motte, a rookie who was playing college hockey last season. It’s not that those three have been a liability — the ‘Hawks have actually scored more than they’ve allowed when that trio’s been together — but replacing Motte with Kane may be a way for Quenneville to get his captain’s name on the scoresheet.

Tonight’s game in Newark is the first of six in 10 days for the ‘Hawks, who return home to face Los Angeles Sunday.