Coach Joel Quennville will apparently juggle the lines this evening to start the ‘Hawks’ eight-game road trip, according to the Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone. He intends to play Patrick Sharp and Andrew Ladd with Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane and Martin Havlat with Dave Bolland, and Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien with either Craig Adams or recent call-up Pascal Pelletier at center. This gives Sharp the opportunity for significant time at the wing. The fourth line will remain the same, and Byfuglien will continue to man the point on the top power play unit with Cam Barker while the $7 million man quarterbacks the second unit.
With the team struggling offensively – and, in particular, the big scorers producing little – the change is a long time coming. But, don’t fret: Q isn’t panicking. He’s just looking for that proverbial spark, and playing the best players with each other is typically the way to do it.
The big question becomes the third line: the speedy, ever dangerous combination of Brouwer, Byfuglien and Adams or Pelletier. How well they can play is anyone’s guess, but perhaps putting Brouwer and Buff in their rightful places – the third scoring line – is just the kick in the pants the two need, though Buff will need more than extra motivation to start catching passes. As Q has felt comfortable enough with Kris Versteeg to play him at center for short stretches in games when the lines get juggled, I’d imagine he’ll take the reigns between Buff and Brouwer when he returns.
And, that leads to another interesting question: when will Versteeg return? As his finger injury will keep him out of a game a week after he suffered it, my guess is the finger is broken. (Though I’m not a doctor, I play one on the Fifth Feather.) I don’t expect him back in the line-up for another ten days or so, but let’s all cross our fingers, no pun intended.
Oh, and get used to Henrik Zetterberg in a ‘Wings jersey. He’ll be a ‘Wing for the next twelve years – until he’s 40 – at an average of $6 million per.
Finally, keep scrolling down for our mid-term Dale Tallon report card. Go for it.