By now it seems like it’s an obvious choice, but it wasn’t the case for nearly a month. For some reason, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville inexplicably left Peter Regin out of the team’s lineup. Now, two big games and roles in some very big plays later, Regin’s inclusion in the lineup, whether against the St. Louis Blues or the Minnesota Wild, is in hindsight a no-brainer.
But why he was left out of the lineup is a mystery. Given how poorly many of the other players had been playing in the bottom lines — Kris Versteeg, Michal Handzus and Brandon Bollig haven’t been playing as they usually do — Regin should have been in the lineup sooner. But it was only when Andrew Shaw, and eventually Bollig, were taken out of the lineup by injury and suspension respectively that Regin got his shot.
But Regin has made the most of his chance. From drawing a penalty that led to Bryan Bickell‘s first goal in Game 5 to tying up Ryan Suter in Game 6 to allow Patrick Kane to be Patrick Kane, Regin has been one of the best players on the ice. His fresh legs have provided Quenneville with another big weapon. This only wouldn’t have happened if there weren’t injuries (to be clear, wishing injury on anyone is wrong), but it should have happened regardless.
But why was he kept out of the lineup? Well, Quenneville tends to make some strange lineup decisions, sometimes without really explaining why. Regin has been getting to the net, both offensively and defensively — had he not been there last night, the Wild could have easily taken the lead had he not made a fantastic save — and bringing a kind of energy that Shaw usually brings — just without the stupid penalties.
The Danish center iceman should be a regular on the roster for the rest of the playoffs. He’s given his team a kick-start and a presence that evokes Ben Smith. He may not be the best player on the team, but he more than deserves to get a shot in the lineup.