Based on yesterday and this morning's practices, it looks like Joel Quenneville went back to the Line slot machine. And this time it spit out Bryan Bickell to skate with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
This will be their third left winger since Patrick Sharp went down, with Viktor Stalberg and Troy Brouwer each getting two games. Two games doesn't seem like enough, but with time running out on the season and points becoming plutonium-valuable, patience isn't something Quenneville is putting on his eggs this morning (dude strikes me as an over-easy guy).
My complaints about Bickell have been voiced over and over again and at a volume that would probably carry through the Alps.
Though he's 6'4", Bickell plays a perimeter game more suited to a 5'10" sniper, without the wheels that that type of player would generally need. While Toews and Kane succeed with a big body to help Toews with board battles behind the net and a crease crasher to give Kane more room on the outside, Bickell is neither of those.
They also do well with Sharp as his superior IQ and speed (when he feels like it). Sharp opens up things as well as he gets into spaces faster than opponents can cover. Bickell doesn't do this either. Perhaps the honor of being on the top line will jolt him into a different game than we've seen, but that's asking a lot.
If Bickell just continues to float around, get knocked off the puck when he has it and continue his waiting for a Chicago bus amount of time to unleash what is an impressive shot, he merely gets in the way.
I'm sure Q will look at his goal total to justify his presence, but the Hawks need so much more. If you need inspiration, last season there was a big winger who never played to his size and loafed through games, and then when he was shifted to the top line became a playoff force that no one (aside from Chris Pronger) could deal with. You may remember him, he's playing defense in Atlanta and just became even richer.
As for the rest of the lineup, the new hipster band on the second line is the Swede and the Slovaks, with Marcus Kruger wedged between Tomas Kopecky and Marian Hossa. If Kruger can merely just keep giving the puck to Hossa and get out of the way, all should be well.
Michael Frolik has been demoted to the fourth line which in actuality is the third line, combining with Viktor Stalberg and Ryan Johnson. That line will certainly scare some people with its speed, and Johnson and Frolik are defensively solid enough, though God help them if they see any size opposite them. But how this line will finish what they might create with their feet offensively is anyone's guess. It'll be like watching an orangutan trying to open a prescription medicine bottle, such are Stalberg's and Frolik's blunt ways.
The other line is some concoction of Fernando Pisani, Troy Brouwer and Jake Dowell. They'll ... well, they'll be in uniform.
Reports have Patrick Sharp starting to skate next week. Considering the time he's missed he may make the last game of the season, best case the away game at Detroit. But much more likely is Game 1 of the first round, in whatever city that's not Chicago.