Nashville Predators forward Gabriel Bourque (57) pokes the puck away from Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81), of Slovakia, in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
When the Chicago Blackhawks went up against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night, they were looking for retribution over their first regulation defeat of the season.
They got their revenge and something else. Just like when the teams played two weeks ago at the United Center, Monday night's affair left both teams with a slew of injuries.
On the good side of the ledger, the Hawks ended up not losing Marcus Kruger or Brandon Saad for any length of time. These two only had to deal with minor wounds (Kruger an arm injury, Saad a facial injury from a cross-check). They did end up losing winger Marian Hossa after Avalanche tough guy Ryan O’Byrne hammered him into the boards. Hossa went off wincing and holding his arm in similar fashion to the way Patrick Sharp did when O’Byrne hit him two weeks ago, but after the game, head coach Joel Quenneville didn’t seem all too concerned with his ailing forward.
He told the media after the game that the injury wasn’t a bad one, and that the team would know more Tuesday about whether or not Hossa would be able to play on Wednesday in a crucial game against the Anaheim Ducks in southern California.
The question that comes up for the Hawks in this situation is what exactly they should do if Hossa can’t answer the bell against the Ducks. Obviously, with the way Quenneville is talking, it wouldn’t be anything long-term, so the team wouldn’t need to call up another forward from Rockford. How should their lines shake up? Here’s a potential solution that would probably be the best lineup for Quenneville to use:
Line 1: Saad-Toews-Frolik
Line 2: Hayes-Bolland-Kane
Line 3: Bickell-Shaw-Stalberg
Line 4: Bollig-Kruger-Carcillo
Generally, it is a better idea to try to keep lines together in order to maintain chemistry, and this lineup would do exactly that. The Hawks should definitely keep their second and third lines together if at all possible, and among the guys that should get bumped up to the top line, Michael Frolik could be an intriguing option.
He looked absolutely fantastic on Monday against the Avs, and this season has been a great one for him on several fronts. He has been an ace penalty killer for this team along with linemate Marcus Kruger, and his burst on offense has truly allowed this team to be able to say they can run four lines deep.
Breaking him up from Kruger isn’t ideal, but it makes more sense than a couple other options that Quenneville could explore. He could shift Patrick Kane up to the first line and then bump Bryan Bickell up to the second line, but with how well Bickell has played on the third line, it would almost be foolish to separate him from those guys. Quenneville could also put Daniel Carcillo back in the lineup and put him on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad, but with his lackluster performances on the top line this season, this option probably makes the least sense out of all of them.
The Blackhawks didn’t show much in the way of ill effects when they lost Hossa on Monday, but their depth will once again be tested if he misses any time. The four day layoff after the Anaheim game could be an enticing incentive to bench Hossa and give him nearly a week to recuperate from whatever ails him, but only time will tell as to whether or not he will be watching from the press box or hitting the ice on Wednesday night.