Could Shaw Find Himself Benched by Blackhawks?

Handzus could also find himself in press box for Game 4

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In the aftermath of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-1 Game-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, speculation has run rampant about which players should be removed from the lineup before Thursday’s pivotal Game 4.

All sorts of players' names have been thrown out, but hyperbole aside, which of these players should be removed from the lineup, and if they are removed, who should replace them?

Here are the four possibilities:

Brandon Saad

Chances of Removal: Low

Saad was given an ultimatum before the series began that he was going to need to improve his play, or else he would have to suffer the consequences. He still hasn’t produced much of anything in the series, but his uptempo play has been a sight for sore eyes as the Hawks have plodded around a bit in Games 2 and 3, and so head coach Joel Quenneville will in all likelihood leave him in the lineup for Game 4.

Andrew Shaw

Chances of Removal: Mid-range

Shaw is the kind of player that is needed in a playoff series. He has some scoring touch, can facilitate the offense by passing the puck, and can play physically tough hockey when needed.

The problem is that he can also step over the line, as he did repeatedly in Game 3. Odds are that Quenneville won’t remove him from the lineup because of his abilities in those areas, but he will be tempted to after the young forward took a couple of ill-advised penalties that cost his teammates momentum in Game 3.

Michal Rozsival

Chances of Removal: Low

The defenseman, by all accounts, had a miserable Game 3. He committed a silly turnover in the defensive zone that ultimately led to a Red Wings goal, and to say that he looked sluggish at times would be an understatement.

The fact of the matter, though, is that Rozsival has been doing a largely solid job in his pairing with Johnny Oduya during the regular season and in the playoffs. He finally won the platoon battle with Sheldon Brookbank for a reason, and has provided the blue line corps of the Blackhawks with some depth.

Michal Handzus

Chances of Removal: Mid-range

If Quenneville hadn’t shown himself to be so enamored with Handzus over the course of the past few weeks, the odds of his removal from the lineup would be high.

Not only has he not been doing a good job as a facilitator on a line with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, but he also hasn’t been taking very many faceoffs, despite the putrid performances of guys like Marcus Kruger in that role.

Factor that in with the fact that he has taken more maintenance days lately than a Boeing 787, and you have a recipe for a potential shake-up to the Blackhawks’ lineup.

One potential solution to the issue of Handzus would be to drop Dave Bolland down to the third line, Shaw to the fourth, and then have Sharp center the second line. In that scenario, Quenneville could conceivably dress either Ben Smith or Jimmy Hayes, both of whom do have playoff experience with the Hawks.

None of these potential roster moves would be a magic bullet solution to what has ailed the team in the past few games, but at the very least the struggles of the team have given Quenneville and company the opportunity to tinker with the lineup in hopes of sparking a fire under a team that is experiencing its first real adversity of the season.

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