Richard Panik will skate on the second line with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane on Friday against the Predators. (Getty Images)

Alex DeBrincat moves to top line as Blackhawks shake up lineup

SHARE Alex DeBrincat moves to top line as Blackhawks shake up lineup
SHARE Alex DeBrincat moves to top line as Blackhawks shake up lineup

Believe it or not, coach Joel Quenneville wants to have consistent lines as much as anybody. But the Blackhawks have scored two or fewer goals in five of their last six games, so the line changes that came at practice Thursday were as inevitable as they were necessary.

‘‘We’re just looking for some change, some excitement,’’ Quenneville said.

Alex DeBrincat joined Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews on the top line, and Richard Panik moved to the second line to join Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. John Hayden moved up to the third line, and Ryan Hartman dropped down to the fourth line. Quenneville said the Hawks’ inability to generate much offense during five-on-five play was the impetus behind the changes.


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Kane, who was spoiled by having the same linemates for the last two seasons, welcomed the shakeup.

‘‘Sometimes you go along, and things can get a little bit dry,’’ Kane said. ‘‘You make a change, it energizes you a little bit. You get some excitement, something new, a fresh look. That’s kind of what we’re hoping for here.’’

DeBrincat, meanwhile, has only one goal through 10 games. Quenneville has been pleased with his play, but it has been an adjustment for a guy who scored 167 goals in the last three seasons in juniors.

‘‘I still want to score and contribute every game,’’ DeBrincat said. ‘‘But it’s not like juniors, where you can take over a game and score a few each night. . . . I’m still adjusting to it.’’

Quenneville also shook up his defensive pairings, breaking up Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Jan Rutta was alongside Keith on the top unit. Seabrook was with Gustav Forsling, and Michal Kempny — a healthy scratch the last three games — skated with Connor Murphy.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

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