During today's practice, Coach Joel Quenneville had Patrick Kane skating on the third line with center Dave Bolland and co-winger Viktor Stalberg. Coach Q is known for adjusting his lines whenever he deems it necessary, although dropping Kane to the third line seems like an extreme idea... but is it?
Honestly, I have full-confidence in just about every decision that Quenneville makes, so I am not opposed to this idea if he thinks it will help. After losing two straight games last Friday and Saturday, fans should have already anticipated Coach Q making a few adjustments heading into tomorrow night's bout against the L.A. Kings, but hearing the words "Kane" and "third line" in the same sentence may surprise some of us.
As I've said for the last couple of years, the Hawks have, and yes- still have, an enormous amount of talent on this roster. While overloading one line with three players out of Hossa, Toews, Kane, and Sharp is tempting, usually Q seems to find better harmony when he is piecing these stars in with the complementary players on the roster, like Bolland, Kopecky, Brouwer, and Bickell.
Many times, these changes are only applied to a stretch of games anyways. After Quenneville thinks its a good idea to move Kane back up, or after another loss or two compels him to shake things up once again, Kaner will be back on one of the first two lines.
Considering all this, I like what Quenneville was reportedly testing out during practice today. The lines were as follows:
Patrick Sharp - Jonathon Toews - Jack Skille
Marian Hossa - Tomas Kopecky - Troy Brouwer
Patrick Kane - Dave Bolland - Viktor Stalberg
Bryan Bickell - Jake Dowell - Fernando Pisani
While Skille jumping up to the first line surprises me more than Kaner dropping to the third, this grouping of lines offers a lot of balance. There is youth and experience on every one of these lines, and each line offers a legitimate scoring threat to the opposing team.
Let's not forget that just because Coach Q tested these lines out today during practice does not mean that we will see these groupings on ice tomorrow night, or ever. What today's report does tell you is that the fantastic coach of our beloved hockey team is always thinking about new ways to help his team succeed.
Kane has had a relatively slow start to the season, scoring only two goals and five assists thus far in the season. I am not worried that Kaner won't soon find a scoring streak, but the only startling stat on his page so far is the minus seven rating that he has during ice time. That is a startlingly low number for one of the premiere players on your hockey team, and is likely what Quenneville is addressing by switching up the lines.
If Kane is used on the third line, it may or may not jump-start him into some more consistent production on the ice, and into improving his plus/minus rating. Likewise, it may not. Let this simply be a story on the meticulous tinkering that takes place inside the awesome mind of one Coach Quenneville.
Whether or not Kane plays on the third line, and regardless of if that is successful or not, rest assured that Coach Q is on the case; he will be addressing everything that needs to be addressed in regards to this hockey team, and I have full confidence in him to do so successfully.
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Tags: Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dave Bolland, Fernando Pisani, Hockey, Jack Skille, Jake Dowell, Joel Quenneville, Jonathan Toews, Line-changes, Los Angeles Kings, Marian Hossa, NHL, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, St. Louis Blues, Tomas Kopecky, Troy Brouwer, Viktor Stalberg