WINNIPEG, Manitoba — It’s way too early to know if Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat will become a thing. But a line that was intriguing on paper showed promise in their first game together and looks like it will be given every opportunity to grow under coach Jeremy Colliton.
Strome, playing his first game for the Hawks after being acquired from the Coyotes along with forward Brendan Perlini in a trade for Nick Schmaltz, scored a goal off assists from Kane and DeBrincat in an otherwise discouraging 8-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
Strome and DeBrincat have previous chemistry from their days on the same line with the Erie Otters in the OHL. But Kane seems like the key ingredient. Every line he’s on seems to produce.
“He’s shown he will do that,” Colliton said. “And I think he’s pretty flexible. He feels like he can make it work with whoever he’s playing with. So that’s nice when you build the lineup.”
Kane’s flexibility is one reason Colliton has played him with Jonathan Toews, “because you see a lot of teams . . . loading up one group. But we’re not sure that’s the perfect solution, either. It doesn’t mean you won’t see it at times, and you have. But for now, we’re trying with Kane, DeBrincat and Strome and see if they can get some chemistry, and they did. They created some chances last game, and we’ll need them to do it again.”
Jets coach Paul Maurice said he did not see “a major shift in terms of style of play” with the Hawks under Colliton compared to Joel Quenneville.
“I don’t think it’s been a major overhaul,” Maurice said. “The coach is really, really important, and then he’s not important at all. A big part of that is the personnel’s not going to allow you to make a tremendous amount of change to your game. The specifics of the individual player and how they relate to each other as lines and D-pairings are probably a lot more important. The guy in the suit is usually the least important guy in and around the bench.”
Ode to Q
That said, Maurice paid fair tribute to Quenneville when asked if it was strange not to see the No. 2 all-time leader in victories on the other side.
“Joel ran the best bench in the league in terms of how fast he was to make adjustments, in terms of when a guy’s going and when a guy’s not going,” Maurice said. “His ability to handle a player like Patrick Kane, who is a unique player in terms of shift length early on in his career to where it gets to now, recognizing when the game was kind of at the tipping point. He’d get those guys out at the right time.
“I thought in two of the Cups, the way that he ran the bench . . . had a really big impact. So what I said about the guy in the suit may not have applied to him.”