Panik dropped to Chicago Blackhawks' fourth line
Joel Quenneville has given the struggling Richard Panik plenty of leash this season, but the Chicago Blackhawks coach finally ran out of patience and demoted his struggling winger to the fourth line Sunday against Los Angeles.
"Sometimes -- whether it's taking away ice time or taking away opportunity and quality opportunity -- (you have to) make them work their way through it," Quenneville said before his team's 3-1 loss to the Kings.
Just like last season when he piled up 6 goals in the first six games, Panik came roaring out of the gates by scoring six times in the first nine contests. Panik's last goal, however, came Oct. 21 at Arizona and he now has gone 18 straight games without finding the back of the net.
"Trying to not think about it too much and just stay positive," Panik said. "I need one goal and I think it's going to be good."
Consistency has been Panik's issue since he broke into the league with Tampa Bay in 2013. He will go through stretches where he's noticeable every shift, and then there are times you wonder if he even played in the game.
Last season, Quenneville moved Panik into a bottom-six role from Games 14-46. After Panik was reunited with Jonathan Toews at Colorado on Jan. 17, he never left that line and scored 12 goals in the Hawks' final 36 games.
He played two shifts with Toews and Saad on Sunday, then spent the rest of the game skating with Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma. John Hayden took Panik's place on the top line.
"Hayds gave it more possession, more zone time -- something that line needs for us to be effective as a team," Quenneville said. "Thought he did a decent job at it."
Rough stretch over:
The Hawks went 1-2-2 in their five-games-in-seven-days stretch that ended with Sunday's loss to Los Angeles. After losing at Dallas on Saturday, they didn't arrive in Chicago until 3 a.m. and then had to play a 6 p.m. game against the Kings.
Unlike seasons past, the Hawks don't have any extended road trips. Their longest stretch away from home is a six-gamer from Dec. 21-Jan. 3, but even that will be broken up by the Christmas break.
"The schedule is a little bit different this year as far as traveling to and from cities just for one game here and there," Jonathan Toews said. "I don't know if it's just the circus trip that's part of that, but it seems like we're on the road for one, back home for one and just kind of bouncing around.
"That can't be an excuse going forward because we know it's going to be quite a bit of the same."
The Hawks were the last NHL team this season to participate in a shootout Saturday in Dallas. Last season, the Hawks didn't see their first shootout until Game 34. … Alex DeBrincat became the first rookie in Hawks history to score 10 goals in a calendar month when he scored in the Hawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Stars on Thursday. … Brandon Saad already has 6 game-winning goals this season. Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov led the Hawks in 2016-17 with 7.