The Chicago Blackhawks have had two days off after a tough loss to the Washington Capitals in the Winter Classic, and their lineup could have a bit of a different look as they prepare to take on the Dallas Stars on Sunday night at the United Center.
The first and most obvious change will come as Teuvo Teravainen slots into the lineup in relief of Kris Versteeg, who will miss about a month due to a hand injury. Teravainen will likely play mostly third and fourth line minutes when he hits the ice, but there is a possibility for increased responsibility (second-group power play would be a smart place to slot him) if he plays well, according to head coach Joel Quenneville.
The fourth line will also have a different look as Daniel Carcillo will likely be benched for Sunday’s game, with Joakim Nordstrom taking his place in the lineup. Part of this decision is to get Teravainen playing with Nordstrom, as the players have developed excellent chemistry in Rockford with the IceHogs, but it’s also an indictment of Carcillo’s poor play in recent games.
The lineup changes will drastically alter the Hawks’ approach on offense, as they’ll have more speed in the lower half of their lineup. Marcus Kruger will get bumped up to the third line to play center between Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw (don’t be surprised if Shaw sees some draws, considering his much-improved performance in the face-off dot lately), and Teravainen will play center on the fourth line with Nordstrom and Ben Smith on his wings. That third line will likely be more of a defensive-stopper group, but the fourth line’s speed and puck movement could cause some issues for a Dallas team that has a hard time on the forecheck.
Even with that being the case, the Hawks are likely going to be patient with both Nordstrom and Teravainen as the next few weeks elapse. These two players figure to be key components for the team heading into next season as salary cap issues could force some other veterans off the roster, and getting them extended NHL minutes now could pay dividends next season. The Versteeg injury does hurt the team’s depth overall, but it also gives the Hawks an excuse to skate the young guys early.