Chicago Blackhawks

DeBrincat Promoted to Top Line as Blackhawks Shuffle Lineup

After scoring two goals in a poor offensive effort against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, the Chicago Blackhawks are making some changes to their lineup for their next game.

The new lines made their debut at the team’s practice on Thursday, and every single line was affected as Joel Quenneville started up his line blender:

Saad – Toews – DeBrincat

Panik – Schmaltz – Kane

Sharp – Anisimov – Hayden

Bouma – Wingels – Hartman

The big change comes right off the top, as rookie forward Alex DeBrincat has been elevated to the top line to skate with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. DeBrincat, who until now had been skating on the team’s third line, will hope to get a boost to his offensive numbers with the switch, as Saad and Toews have been two of the team’s better offensive players to begin the year.

Richard Panik, who was on the right wing of the top line, will switch instead to second line left wing, skating with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. Panik’s ability to get to the front of the net will undoubtedly help the speedy Kane and smooth-passing Schmaltz, but playing on the wing he’s less comfortable on may be a bit of a challenge as he makes the adjustment.

The third line retains two of its pieces, but adds John Hayden after the second-year forward looked strong offensively over the team’s last few games. It is an interesting mix of scoring and physicality, but with DeBrincat out of the mix speed (or lack thereof) may become a problem here.

The fourth line is bolstered with Ryan Hartman, who has found success on the second line with Kane and Schmaltz this season. Tommy Wingels has also played well, but it’s unclear what role they will play now that they have a more offensive-minded player in the mix.

The new lines will likely make their in-game debut on Friday night when the Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators at the United Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. 

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