ST. LOUIS – Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have been reunited on the top line and David Rundblad is expected to play when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of their first-round series Thursday night.
Coach Joel Quenneville usually puts Toews and Kane together as his in-case-of-emergency-break-glass move. And with the Blackhawks facing elimination, there’s no more desperate a time than now.
“At this point of the playoffs, sometimes things call for change,” Kane said. “We haven't played with each other much, so hopefully it's kind of that instant chemistry and we can get a win tonight. That's the most important thing, so hopefully it helps us.”
On defense, Rundblad will play and Michal Rozsival is out. Quenneville said Rozsival was “OK early, but the last two just OK."
The Blackhawks will be without Andrew Shaw, who was suspended one game for his homophobic slur at the end of Game 4. He apologized for it on Wednesday prior to the Blackhawks departing for St. Louis. Shaw’s absence, coupled with the Blackhawks looking for offense, means the team shook up all of their lines. Richard Panik joins Toews and Kane on the top line. Teuvo Teravainen moves to right wing with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov on the second line. Marcus Kruger centered Andrew Ladd and Marian Hossa on the third line and Andrew Desjardins centered Brandon Mashinter and Dale Weise.
“Yeah we feel maybe there’s more balance in the lines, offensively as well as defensively,” Quenneville said. “Try a different look.”
And the Blackhawks will try to spark some offense. They managed three goals in Game 4 but their top forwards (Kane, Toews, Hossa and Ladd) are still looking for the first goals of the postseason.
“It’s tough when you get the chances and you’re not capitalizing, especially in big moments in the game. Think I had a couple chances last game in the second period there that would've given us a 3-1 lead or make it 3-2, so you score one of those it's a totally different game,” Kane said. “Obviously, you can get as many chances as you want, but it comes down to producing. So, hopefully the chances are there and it's on the verge of breaking through.”
With Shaw gone the Blackhawks also have to find someone who’s willing to go to the net as often as he is.
“Shawzy did some good things individually and that’s the lesson we can take as a team: there’s a reward to get to where you need to get to, to be successful in a game,” Quenneville said.