Blackhawks Lineup Changes (Again) Against Dallas?

It looks like the only person experimenting with lines more than Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville these days is Charlie Sheen…

Reports are that, for Tuesday night’s game against the Stars, Quenneville will again keep Ben Eager on the bench. Because of how effective it was reuniting Patrick Sharp with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, that will remain the top line. Andrew Ladd will move back up onto the second line, playing with Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa. One of the surprises is the third line, where Kris Versteeg appears set to spend some time at center between Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien. Tomas Kopecky, who was thrilled after skating with Hossa on Saturday and played well in the change, moves back to the fourth line, where he’ll again skate with Colin Fraser (at wing) and John Madden.

The third line of Byfuglien-Versteeg-Brouwer looks especially intriguing, with two big, hitting forward on either side of Versteeg, a smooth criminal who moves the puck exceptionally well in space. Versteeg has been a central figure in many trade rumors lately, so moving him back to center has a bit of intrigue to it because of that potential as well.

The changes would figure to impact Brouwer’s production the most. He was scoring at a pace he’s never displayed at the NHL level while skating with Toews and Kane, and provided a physical force on the line that created space for Kane and Toews to create. However, the creativity on the line with Sharp, Kane and Toews was good last year for most of the season, and it contributed both of the Hawks’ goals in Saturday’s victory.

Antti Niemi will start in net on Tuesday.

2 thoughts on “Blackhawks Lineup Changes (Again) Against Dallas?

  • February 9, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Make no mistake, the Blackhawk player most under the scope this game is Niemi. If he gets us a W vs Dallas for the first time this year and plays well, you can bet Bowman and company take notice.

    We all know Niemi is good, his numbers attest to that. But we don’t know how good yet. He has still not answered the question of repeat starts at a high level. If he does, it is my belief Niemi will start game one when it’s playoff time.

    Should be an exciting game tonight.

  • February 9, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Oh, I completely agree, Jeff. All we need is Niemi to stand on his head for two straight games and the keys to the castle are his… unfortunately, he didn’t get it done in Vancouver. The numbers are clearly in favor of Niemi, but we’ll see what happens between now and March 3. We need to help both of our goalies by adding depth on the blue line/getting Cam Barker off this team.

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