Blackhawks to keep Bickell-Toews-Kane on top lineContinue reading.
Quenneville shakeup splits Kane-Toews pairing for Game 1 vs. Bruins
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville loves to tinker with his lines and his roster throughout the season. But on the high wire of the Stanley Cup Final, he’s working without a net.
The often perfunctory Blackhawks practice provided a slew of surprises Tuesday at the United Center. Quenneville split up the Patrick Kane-Jonathan Toews pairing that was so effective in Games 4 and 5 against the Los Angeles Kings. The top line featured Patrick Sharp, Toews and Marian Hossa. Kane was on the second line with Bryan Bickell and Michal Handzus. Dave Bolland was moved from the fourth line to the third line, centering for Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad.
And Viktor Stalberg, who had been on the third line with Saad and Shaw, was dropped from the lineup, replaced by Brandon Bollig, who was on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Michal Frolik.
Breaking up Kane and Toews seemed counter-intuitive considering their effectiveness in the Kings series. But Quenneville indicated he’s looking for a better matchup against the Bruins’ top two lines.
‘‘It could be,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘It’s balance and it’s something we’ll look at. Sometimes that can evolve over the course of a series. But that [matchup issue] might be one of the reasons.’’
Kane, who scored four goals in two games since being paired with Toews in Game 4 against the Kings, was unfazed by the move and called it ‘‘a great opportunity’’ to play with Handzus and Bickell.
‘‘It doesn’t affect me too much,’’ Kane said. ‘‘Joel has been known to change the lines around. If you think about that too much it only goes to your advantage.
‘‘I’m not worried about being split from Jonny. I’m still playing with two great players in Handzus and Bickell and they’ve both been huge parts of the reason for our success in the playoffs. I think it’s a great opportunity for me.’’