Now that the Jeremy Morin question has been answered, it appears the Blackhawks’ roster for Opening Night in Denver is fairly certain.
But where will the names fall in the lineup? There are a lot of intriguing options for coach Joel Quenneville, with some exciting new faces and some eager veterans ready to defend the Stanley Cup. Let’s take a look at the likely lineup for Thursday night’s game.
- Marian Hossa – Jonathan Toews – Tomas Kopecky
- Patrick Kane – Patrick Sharp – Troy Brouwer
- Viktor Stalberg – Dave Bolland – Bryan Bickell
- Fernando Pisani – Jake Dowell – Jack Skille
Because of Skille’s minor injury, the Hawks will probably limit his minutes if necessary on Thursday. Pisani will probably spend most of the year on the fourth line for depth chart purposes, but he will become a nightly matchup master for Quenneville. Look for Pisani to see a lot of time on special teams.
The checking line of Stalberg-Bolland-Bickell has the potential to create matchup headaches for opponents. Both Bickell (6’4, 225) and Stalberg (6’3, 210) are big enough to play a power forward role, but each can move up and down the ice. Even if the Hawks opt to put Brouwer (6’2, 215) on the checking line, there will be size issues for opposing coaches all year.
At the top of the lineup, the top two lines shouldn’t surprise anyone. Quenneville played the Slovaks outisde of Toews after the Olympics and again in the postseason to great success, and has been doing it again consistently throughout the preseason. There is plenty of familiarity between Kane and Sharp, who have spent a lot of time on the ice together with Sharp either playing center or wing.
On defense, there shouldn’t be a lot of shock. The only missing name is that of Brian Campbell, who is out until November with his knee injury; Nick Boynton will be suspended on Thursday night, and will be in a rotation as one of the Hawks’ third pair defensemen once he returns.
- Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
- Niklas Hjalmarsson – Nick Leddy
- John Scott – Jordan Hendry
Leddy will get every opportunity to succeed, and will probably get a chance to see significant time on the power play early in the year. He’s still just 19, but there’s no question the organization wants him to play a big role in the future of the Hawks’ defense. The injury to Campbell afforded the team an excuse for a prime time tryout.
In goal, it will be Marty Turco. If you didn’t know that… donate your Byfuglien jersey to a charity and get off the bandwagon.
This year’s Blackhawks team could very easily be bigger, stronger and faster than the team that won the championship. There is plenty of reason for Blackhawks fans to be excited.