Well, so much for that experiment.
Two days before the season-opener, Joel Quenneville is going back to what works. Quenneville, who had been flirting with the idea of putting Artemi Panarin on the top line with Jonathan Toews, put the reigning rookie of the year back on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane on Monday. And Marian Hossa, who had been playing alongside Marcus Kruger on the third line, was back in his usual spot on Toews’ right wing, with Richard Panik on the left side.
Like last year, it will be a top-heavy lineup — the bottom six will feature four rookies, Jordin Tootoo, and Kruger — but Quenneville chose “familiarity” over “balance.”
“Familiarity is probably the most important reason why we’re looking [this way],” he said. “Starting with a couple established lines up front, and work our way down.”
Andrew Desjardins will miss four to six weeks after injuring himself blocking a shot in the third period of Saturday’s preseason finale in St. Louis. For now, the Hawks placed Desjardins on injured reserve, not long-term injured reserve. If he moves to LTIR, he’d have to sit at least 10 games and 24 days.
Desjardins’ injury did make Quenneville’s final roster decisions a little easier. Dennis Rasmussen appears to be the Hawks’ 13th forward. But even though he played 44 games last season, mostly in the fourth-line center role, Rasmussen is taking nothing for granted.
“I always try to take it day by day,” he said “I felt like that last year, too. I’ve got to be good every day. There’s no days off. It doesn’t matter if it’s camp or not. I have to be as good as I can be.”
Gustav Forsling won a surprising roster spot with a stellar camp, but came back to earth a little bit during a rough outing in St. Louis. In the third period, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo turned Forsling inside-out with a toe drag on a power-play goal.
But Quenneville is confident Forsling is ready. And with Niklas Hjalmarsson suspended for the first game of the season for his high hit on St. Louis’ Ty Rattie, the 20-year-old will be in the lineup. He’s been paired with veteran Brian Campbell lately.
“He had a lot of poise throughout camp,” Quenneville said. “We feel that he’s got great instincts and we feel he’s going to get better every day on the job. We’re going to work him with some experienced [defensemen], as well. We’re just looking forward to seeing how he progressed in games. I think he can help our power play. He’s got a tremendous shot, poise and patience, and we’ll see how he handles getting started on Wednesday night.”