When you’re stumped to find a solution, sometimes it pays off to see what worked before.
The Chicago Blackhawks are going with that strategy amid some scoring struggles, as NBC Sports Chicago’s Tracey Myers and others note that Joel Quenneville is reuniting a line that may inspire Blackhawks nostalgia: Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane.
Some would call it going retro. Others prefer “going nuclear.”
“Right now we haven’t had the team scoring so we’re trying to get that first and maybe things will look on balance as we’re going along. But I feel if they can score and other lines can score, maybe there’s balance that way, too,” Quenneville said, via Myers. “We’re just looking at any way right now to recapture what it’s like to score because we know it’s there.”
With Brandon Saad managing one assist in his last nine games after a red-hot start to his second run with Chicago, it makes sense to shake things up, especially with the Blackhawks struggling to score at even-strength.
While there are concerns with loading up by putting Toews and Kane together rather than going with the usual plan of asking them to carry their own lines, Saad helps tie things together on a passable second trio:
Blackhawks this morning:
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 9, 2017
Putting Saad with Artem Anisimov and Richard Panik could work, maybe.
Sharp might be the forward in the greatest need of a boost. The 35-year-old hasn’t scored a point in his last nine games and only has a goal to show for his last 11.
The Blackhawks could certainly benefit from a bump in energy and creativity, as their schedule is on the more challenging side beginning with tonight’s game against the Flyers in Philly. Take a look at the upcoming stretch:
Thu, Nov 9 @ Philadelphia
Sat, Nov 11 @ Carolina
Sun, Nov 12 vs New Jersey
Wed, Nov 15 vs NY Rangers
Sat, Nov 18 @ Pittsburgh
Wed, Nov 22 @ Tampa Bay
Sat, Nov 25 @ Florida
That’s a difficult weekend, not to mention a run of five of seven games on the road. At 7-6-2, the Blackhawks are currently in the running for a wildcard spot in the West, an experience that remains a bit foreign to this proud group (even if prognosticators have been forecasting such a regression for years now).
It’s not clear how long the Blackhawks would roll with this combination – Coach Q has made it pretty clear that he’d rather diversify his offensive threats – but it might help shake things up. If you enjoy watching those three work together, tonight’s your night.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.