CHICAGO — Brandon Saad, who scored the Blackhawks’ first goal in Game 1 and ended their 4-3 triple-overtime victory playing with top-line holdovers Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, remained on the first line in Friday’s morning skate.
“Regardless of what line you’re playing on you’re going to come to the rink and do your job and work hard, especially at this stage this late in the season,” Saad said. “But to be on this line helps out. Those guys are great players. We played pretty much the whole year together so the chemistry developed.”
Bryan Bickell, who has eight goals this postseason after scoring nine during the regular season, was shifted back to the third line during practice, where he joined Andrew Shaw (who scored the winning goal in Game 1) and Dave Bolland.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was asked why he’s so willing to shuffle his lines, something many coaches won’t do during the postseason.
“Well, I think most of the guys over the course of the season play with one another,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s about the matchup. Sometimes it’s just about mixing it up. Sometimes it’s guys on a merit basis who look like they’re playing well. It all goes hand in hand.
“We feel that in playoff series, you don’t have enough time to hang around and make a decision,” he said. “So sometimes we try things. We usually try them when we don’t like how things are going.”
The Blackhawks have a potent second line in Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, and Michael Handzus, and Quenneville’s willingness to give all four lines significant ice team means that Michael Frolik, Marcus Kruger, and Brandon Bollig will also get their opportunities.
“All those guys [on the fourth line], they’ve got a pretty good idea how to play with and without the puck. Sometimes they’re hard to play against.”