Joel Quenneville tinkers with three lines
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com April 6, 2013 9:42PM
Bryan Bickell, Pekka Rinne
PREDATORS AT BLACKHAWKS
The facts: 6 p.m., CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: May 8, 2013 7:10AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No line is safe after a tough loss, not even one that has been as reliable and effective as the Blackhawks’ third line.
Because of injury and strategy, coach Joel Quenneville shook up three of his four lines in the 1-0 victory Saturday over the Nashville Predators. And Quenneville was pleased with all three of them.
With Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp out of the lineup, Quenneville moved Marcus Kruger and Daniel Carcillo to the second line. And as he did late in Thursday’s loss to the St. Louis Blues when things started to go awry, Quenneville had Michal Handzus in Andrew Shaw’s usual spot between Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg on the third line. Shaw centered Brandon Bollig and Michael Frolik on the fourth.
Bickell scored the lone goal on a two-on-one in the first period. Handzus drew the attention of goalie Pekka Rinne and defenseman Jonathon Blum before making a pretty pass, leaving Bickell with a wide-open net.
“He sucked both of them in there,” Bickell said. “He’s got that patience. I had a feeling going across the blue line that he was going to give me the pass. I just got open for him, and he picked up both of them. I was happy to have the empty net.”
The assist was only Handzus’ third point in 30 games this season — he had a goal and an assist Feb. 5 for the San Jose Sharks against the Hawks. That play, combined with another strong night on faceoffs (10-for-15), could keep him on that third line for a while.
Carcillo, meanwhile, had four shots on goal — including a great chance early in the game off a Kruger feed — and blocked two shots in a strong game.
“[Patrick Kane and Kruger] are two great players, so it’s nice to get time to play there,” Carcillo said. “It’s even better that we got the win. It would have been nice to get some results scoring-wise to help the team, but it didn’t matter today. We only needed one.”
Bickell wasn’t surprised by the line changes and won’t be surprised if it happens again.
“[Quenneville] likes to mix it up once in a while,” he said. “Stir it up after a loss, or when things are not clicking, just to get more energy going. I bet down the line that we’re going to be back together. We had so much success. [But] if it takes me or someone else to get off the line to stir up the team, whatever I can do.”
Neither Bolland nor Sharp made the trip to Nashville, and Quenneville said they were “questionable” at best for the rematch Sunday at the United Center. Quenneville didn’t want to get into specifics but hinted that Bolland’s injury is related to the Shea Weber slap shot he took off the foot Monday.
The Hawks and Predators will meet for the third time in seven days Sunday. Then they play again April 17 in Chicago. Nashville’s trapping, slowdown style is pretty much the antithesis of the Hawks’ skillful puck-possession style, and it often gives the Hawks fits.
“That’s a team that you’ve really got to play some boring hockey against,” Hawks goalie Ray Emery said.