New look for Blackhawks’ lines and defensive pairings
by Scott King
Following a 4-2 defeat by the Vegas Golden Knights in Sin City on Tuesday, and with their record falling to 5-3-2, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville decided to change things up at Thursday morning’s practice.
Here’s how it looked:
Noticeable changes: Richard Panik jumped down to the second line opposite Patrick Kane, and Alex DeBrincat bumped up from the third to the first line.
“Yeah, it’s a good, good spot for me,” DeBrincat said. “Those are two really good players and it doesn’t really matter where I am in the lineup, I think I can try to make plays with anyone and they’re all good players, so they all make me better, too.”
DeBrincat also noted the differences between playing on right wing now versus playing on the left.
“I think it’s a little bit different entering the zone,” the 19-year-old winger said. “On the left I can open up for a one-timer right away. On the right I just gotta find space in the middle and try to have a quick release. That’s the biggest difference.”
“I think he’s done some good things,” Patrick Kane said of DeBrincat. “When he has the puck he’s got good play recognition. He can make some plays. I think he’s good at getting pucks back and finding a way to get his stick on the puck on the forecheck and things like that.
“When you play with Tazer’ (Jonathan Toews) you know you’re going to have a lot of chances to get open and hopefully get some chances. We’ve seen when he does that he has the ability to score. Yeah, it’ll be a good chance for him for sure.”
Quenneville expects big things from DeBrincat on the first line as well.
“Shoot more, I just think he sees plays, has a lot of confidence with the puck and play to your strengths. But whether he’s shooting or making plays, there’s a lot of quickness off the rush, there are plays to be made in that area. He sees plays as good as anybody, so hopefully, whether shooting or making plays, be comfortable.”
“I think a lot of us have played with a lot of different guys,” Kane said of the changes. “Whether it’s been in preseason or just throughout the season and I think just for our group, things got a little dry there so we were probably do for a change.
“We got so many good players on this team, it doesn’t matter who you play with. Panik is a guy that can go up and down the ice, get pucks back, score goals, play physical, so hopefully we can create some chemistry tomorrow and do some good things in the game.”
Noticeable changes: Keith and Seabrook have been split up and new Hawk Jan Rutta is getting a shot on the top pairing alongside the two-time Norris trophy winner.
“Yeah, maybe [more] balance,” Quenneville said of the new defensive pairings. “Little bit more. We want to see how it looks. We’ve seen this look for a while. Maybe [these] pairs will give us more, when I say balance or predictability, we need to improve there as well.”
The Hawks take on the Nashville Predators Friday night at the United Center at 7:30 pm.
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