12/02/2008 5:53 PM
- From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
Head coach Joel Quenneville’s top three line combinations, which have remained fairly consistent through the first quarter of the season, saw their first real shakeup during Monday and Tuesday’s practices.
The most notable change moved Patrick Kane to the line with Patrick Sharp and Troy Brouwer, a move which Quenneville says will better utilize two of the Blackhawks' biggest playmakers.
“Kaner and Sharpy help each other out whenever they’re together,” Quenneville said. “Some guys benefit from playing with [Kane] and Sharpy’s that kind of finisher. It’s a combination that looks like it has a lot of chemistry.”
To fill the vacancy from Kane’s movement, Dustin Byfuglien practiced with Jonathan Toews and Kris Versteeg.
“Byfuglien’s an individual who can do a lot for our team,” said Quenneville. “He’s a valuable commodity; he brings size, skill and toughness. We don’t want him to change his game at all.”
Winger Martin Havlat will also be moving, teaming with Dave Bolland and Andrew Ladd. Quenneville says he thinks playing against the opposing team’s top line can spark Havlat’s offensive production.
"When you play against quality offensive guys, you play quality offense yourself,” he said. “Just because you’re playing against the team’s top line doesn’t mean you’re not available to score. That’s been an effective line for us and we feel no matter who you’re playing with we want you to be productive.”
Quenneville insists the line juggling is not a promotion or demotion for anyone; he expects each line to contribute on both ends of the ice.
“When you look at the three lines, you could argue which is number one, two or three,” he said. “Every line has two of the same guys playing together, which will bring us some freshness and some newness. We want to see who can be effective with one another.”
Hawks go Duck hunting Wednesday
With the 1-0 loss still fresh in their memories, the Hawks are preparing to face the Ducks Wednesday at the United Center. In some cases, though, the memory of that disappointing loss is not a bad thing.
“We remember what they played like,” said defenseman Duncan Keith. “They have a really tough, in-your-face type of defensive game; it showed last game when we didn’t score against them. We’ve got to do all of the things we’ve worked on the last couple of days if we want to win.”
Anaheim lost to Detroit 2-1 Monday night, but still comes to Chicago with a 5-2-1 record in their last eight games.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league and they’ve been playing great lately,” said Havlat. “It’s not going to be an easy game. We didn’t score on them last time, but it’s a new game tomorrow.”
Khabibulin back on skates
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin skated Tuesday before practice for the first time since his injury last week. Though he didn't participate in practice, Quenneville says he looked comfortable out on the ice. He stressed, however, that the team would not rush Khabibulin back until he was 100 percent ready, which may not be until after the weekend.
"You want to be right before you get back in there and do all of that movement," Quenneville said. "We’re not going to compromise him at all to put him in net before he’s ready."
Remembering Pit Martin
Quenneville took a moment after practice to pay his condolences to the family of former Blackhawks captain Pit Martin.
“I knew Pit when he was in Windsor, and I had the pleasure to be around him. I thought a lot of Pit,” he said. “This is an unfortunate tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to Pit Martin and his family.”
Martin died earlier this week at the age of 64.