Prior to Game 5 of the Western Conferance Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks top lines were not performing to their expectations. Kane especially, was less than himself through the first four games, and Coach Joel Quenneville knew he had to make a change; a change that needed to light a fire under his team. The decision to move Brandon Saad, Patrick, Kane, and Andrew Shaw has proven to be what the Hawks need. The Kane line has become just as deadly as the Los Angeles Kings‘ line of Tyler Taffoli, Jeff Carter, and Tanner Pearson. With Coach Quenneville’s great hockey sense and the talent Saad, Kane, and Shaw posses was a recipe for success as seen in Game 5 and Game 6.
The Blackhawks debut this line in Game 5, and it was an instant success. The breakthrough line had at least one point on all five of the Blackhawks goals. A staggering statistic that proved to be the deciding factor in Game 5. Coach Quenneville said in his postgame interview that if Brandon Saad had turned on a switch, “I’d say the line. Whether it was him… I thought he had a special night. He had a lot of speed. You look at Shawsy’s contribution, Kaner’s contribution. It was one of those nights where everything fell in there nicely.”
That trend continued in Game 6 after adding another five points to lead the Blackhawks to Game 7. The Blackhawks are one of the most complete teams in the NHL, and when the coach can mix up lines and the lines gel right away, it is a huge advantage.
The Kings will be hard to shut down as they already have won two Game 7s on the road. The Kings were able to beat both the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks in their respective series. While they will be a little further from home, the atmosphere will be more than electric. The Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was confident and focused on the task at hand, after their loss in game, stating, “I know we got another game to play, Game 7. We’ve had two chances to close out this series, and we’re not going to blow a third one.”
If the Blackhawks are going to come back from a three-to-one series deficit against this gritty Kings team, the line of Saad, Kane, and Shaw will need to continue their stellar play. Game 7 will be held in Chicago, IL on Suday night at 8 PM ET. It should be an exciting one.