You don’t have to tell Teuvo Teravainen the importance of having good third and fourth lines in the postseason. He lived it last spring.
“Last year in the playoffs, third line I played with [Antoine Vermette] and [Patrick Sharp], we were playing really good. We could score and play good defense and our fourth line played really good defense, too,” Teravainen said. “We need four lines to play good hockey.”
To that end the Blackhawks welcome Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise to the mix. Whether it’s been the past few regular seasons or the playoff runs, the Blackhawks have long relied on their third and fourth lines for secondary scoring and for taking pressure off the top two lines offensively and defensively. That’s been missing most of this season, so the Blackhawks will readjust with their two latest acquisitions.
“They’re both decent-sized wingers. [Weise] gives you some energy, gives you up-and-down, scores goals, goes to the net and is a good fore-checker. Fleisch gives you experience in playing a lot of different situations as well,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think you look at the lines and potential lines we can have down the road, we’re looking forward to getting them together to see how that works.”
Weise isn’t here yet – Weise has some visa issues to iron out, but general manager Stan Bowman expects him to be here within the week. So the full effect on the lines won’t be felt immediately. For now Fleischmann, who will play Sunday against the Washington Capitals, is on the third line with Andrew Desjardins and Teravainen.
Speaking of Teravainen, let’s get back to how these moves affect him. They were done to give Teravainen, who has been up and down the lineup, a more fixed role with more consistent line mates.
“I think sometimes people overlook the fact that more than anybody on our group of forwards, he’s bounced around and had to be the most versatile guy. That’s not easy to do for a young guy who’s trying to get established in the league. He’s a very important player for us and will continue to be,” Bowman said. “But I think in fairness to him, if we can give him more stability it might enhance his profile a bit.”
That’s fine with Teravainen, because it worked well last spring. He, Vermette and Sharp were strong, with the line coming up with big points at critical times. They were also solid defensively. The same goes for that postseason fourth line of Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw. Once Kruger returns from his wrist injury, Quenneville could put those three together again.
The Blackhawks have a chance to get that great four-line rotation that has worked for them the last few regular and postseasons. It should also help Teravainen find some line stability. He was a little disappointed to see teammate Phillip Danault go in the deal that brought Weise and Fleischmann here – “he was one of my best buddies here,” Teravainen said. But he understands the business and that the Blackhawks are doing what’s necessary to win another Cup.
“It’s good to have some new guys,” he said. “I’m excited to get our team going and looking forward to the playoffs. I think these guys will help us.”