After stinker, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville begins to tinker
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com March 10, 2013 10:45PM
Hawks center Dave Bolland hangs onto the cross bar as Patrick Kane's shot hits the net, reducing Edmonton's lead to 4-1 in the second period of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Edmonton Oilers NHL game Sunday March 10, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: March 12, 2013 2:16PM
For the first seven weeks, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville resisted the urge to mess with his lines, not an easy task for a guy famous for his tinkering. But the Hawks kept winning, so he saw no need to change anything.
Well, two games after Patrick Sharp’s shoulder injury, Quenneville is once again playing the role of chemist, searching for just the right combinations.
Viktor Stalberg moved up to second-line left wing Sunday, joining Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane. Bryan Bickell got a chance at that spot in Friday’s loss at Colorado. Bickell returned to his usual spot on the third line, joined by Andrew Shaw and Daniel Carcillo.
Not only that, but the Bolland line started the game — the first time all season that Jonathan Toews’ line didn’t start the game.
Quenneville hinted at some tweaking before the game.
“Last game wasn’t one of our better games,” he said. “But I have to commend Colorado on how they played. They played a great game and certainly deserved it. We’ll look at making some adjustments here or there, but not a ton of them.”
Toews still skated between Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa. But the third and fourth lines were in flux. Shaw and Bickell skated on the third line with various right wings, and Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik were on the fourth line with various left wings as Quenneville double-shifted wings rather than give Jamal Mayers a regular shift.
As for Sharp, Quenneville said he saw him Sunday.
“He seemed like he’s progressing,” he said.
Take a break
After playing seven games in 11 days, the Hawks have three straight days off for the first time. That could mean back-to-back practices Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time before they head to Columbus for Thursday’s game, which kicks off a four-game, eight-night trip that includes stops in Dallas, Colorado and Anaheim.
Quenneville said he’d decide after the game how to approach the sudden spate of days off.
“We haven’t spent a lot of time practicing between game days lately because rest is more important,” Quenneville said.
Defenseman Steve Montador is on the active roster but has yet to return to the lineup. Montador has played in only one game — late last March — since suffering a concussion Feb. 7. Quenne-ville declined to say whether a conditioning stint with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs is a possibility, saying only, “Right now, he’s waiting his turn to get into the lineup.”
But Montador said Friday that it’s an option.
“We’ve talked about it,” Montador said. “No decisions have been made, but it’s a logical step given the nature of our season and their season and the situation.”