I read recently that although the bottom line guys are easy to criticize, they don’t really impact the outcome as much as we think. The big improvements to a team happen when the organization upgrades the top performers on the team. I’m not sure if Nick Schmaltz is a top performer, but he is sure as shit better than Tanner Kero. If the Hawks really want to win this series, Kero should not be anywhere near the Toews line unless half the team is out with various injuries.
The Hawks were blanked by Rinne in game 1, partially due to some good goaltending but mostly from Nashville’s strategy to clog the neutral zone. If Chicago wins this series, it will be through breaking this trap and getting sustained pressure. Trevor Van Reimsdyk shots from the point aren’t going to win you a game, let alone a series.
Predicted Forward Lines:
Hartman – Toews – Panik
Panarin – Anisimov – Kane
Schmaltz – Kruger – Hossa
Rasmussen – Kero – Tootoo
No changes from game 1.
Hartman moved up to the first line in the morning skate, switching places with Schmaltz. While Schmaltz left a lot to be desired in Game 1, the entire team was guilty of that. This adds a little more north/south to the first line, which should help break the passive Nashville defense. I’d prefer to see Tootoo in the pressbox and Hayden in the lineup, but I don’t see Quenneville ever playing an inexperienced line like that in the playoffs. As long as the fourth line stays on the fourth line, there shouldn’t be an issue.