Hawks change lines, separate Toews, Hossa
Turns out those threats Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville made about switching things up following Friday's 2-1 loss in Buffalo were anything but idle.
In an attempt to jump-start the Hawks' moribund offense, Quenneville made his moves Saturday, breaking up Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and reshuffling the top three lines to try and shake his team out of its 10 goals in seven games scoring drought.
"We want production," Quenneville said. "In the last stretch of games we like the way we're been playing, but it's not reflecting on the scorecard.
"We need the ugly goals, the dirty type goals - that's what we have to look for to get us some offense. We have to find that tenacity around the net, the willingness to take it to the net and the willingness to get to the net."
Quenneville's lines Saturday at practice were Toews, Patrick Kane and Troy Brouwer; Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Andrew Ladd, and John Madden, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg. The fourth line remained intact.
"It looks like we have balance on all the lines," Quenneville said. "We should have scoring on all the lines."
His players understood the message behind Saturday's moves.
"The numbers speak for themselves," Sharp said. "The last few games we haven't generated a lot of offense and that's on us as far as our work ethic, getting to those areas where you score goals.
"We've had a lot of one and dones. When you get guys going to the net, and you sticks and guys competing - myself included - you get more scoring chances. We know that."
Kane, for one, is looking forward to reuniting with some familiar faces.
"We played together last year and played pretty well together," Kane said. "Brouwer's a big guy, creates a lot of space out there. Toews is obviously good along the boards. We have a lot of chemistry. I think we get excited when we get out there with each other."
In addition to the line changes, Quenneville also mixed and matched the power play units. One will feature Kane, Versteeg, Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell. The other has Brouwer, Toews, Hossa, Byfuglien and Cam Barker skating together.
"Hopefully the units work out," Kane said. "I don't think the power play is doing really bad - I think we're ninth in the league. Obviously we want to be top 5 or best in the league.
"I think sometimes a change up is good."
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Blackhawks
Time: 6 p.m.
Radio: WGN 720-AM
TV: Channel 9
Outlook: The struggling Lightning (11-11-9), who have failed to win in seven of their last eight games, got some good news when their two top scorers, center Steve Stamkos and left wing Ryan Malone - and their 33 combined goals - each shook off injuries to play Friday in Colorado. After a sterling performance in Pittsburgh Antti Niemi will be back between the pipes for the Blackhawks.
Next: St. Louis at 7:30 p.m. at the United Center.