Blackhawks expect depth to be tested by well-rounded Golden Knights

The Knights’ deep cast of four capable forward lines contrasts radically with the Oilers’ two unsupported superstars.

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The Blackhawks must gameplan much differently for the Golden Knights than they did for the Oilers.

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The Blackhawks’ two 2020 playoff opponents, the now-dispatched Oilers and the soon-to-come Golden Knights, could not possibly be made up more differently.

The Oilers are arguably the NHL’s most top-heavy team. The Knights, conversely, are arguably the NHL’s deepest team.

‘‘They seem to use all four lines a little more than Edmonton did,’’ defenseman Connor Murphy said Sunday. ‘‘It’ll be definitely different defending against that team game and that simple pressure and speed that they have. They play that playoff-style game, as well. That’ll be something that we look at these next couple of days and either adjust or roll with.’’

While the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid led the league with 110 and 97 points, respectively, during the regular season, the Knights’ top scorer had only 66. That guy, Max Pacioretty, has been out with an injury since the restart, but he’s expected to be ready for the series against the Hawks.

Pacioretty is only one part of the Knights’ army, though. They also have Mark Stone (63 points), Reilly Smith (54), Jonathan Marchessault (47), William Karlsson (46) and Paul Stastny (38) among the forward corps, plus one of the NHL’s top-scoring defensemen in Shea Theodore (46).

Their top defensive pairing, Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb, contributes some offense (Schmidt had 31 points) but is particularly strong in its own zone.

And in the net, much-discussed former Hawks goalie Robin Lehner complements a future Hall of Famer in Marc-Andre Fleury.

During the regular season, the Knights led the league in scoring chances and shots on goal per game and ranked second in shot attempts. On defense, they conceded the second-fewest shots on goal and third-fewest scoring chances and shot attempts.

‘‘They’re an excellent team [that] played really well, especially as the year has gone on,’’ coach Jeremy Colliton said. ‘‘Stingy defensively, but they’ve created a lot going the other way, too. We know we’re going to have to raise our level.’’

Even the Knights’ lower lines are solid. Their gritty fourth line of William Carrier centering Ryan Reaves and Nicolas Roy impressed in the round-robin games, and third-line wing Alex Tuch scored the overtime winner Saturday against the Avalanche to clinch the top seed.

‘‘They’re a good team, they’re deep up front, they have good defense, great goaltending,’’ center Kirby Dach said. ‘‘They play the game fast, they’re smart, they’re a disciplined team. We just know we’re going to have to keep elevating our game to compete.’’

Nearly the entire Hawks team watched the Knights-Avalanche game from the stands at Rogers Place in Edmonton, getting a head start on their scouting and preparation.

The Hawks went 1-1-1 against the Knights in the season series — losing 2-1 in a shootout Oct. 22, winning 5-3 on Nov. 13 and losing 5-1 on Dec. 10 — but it has been eight months since then.

The Knights have changed coaches — from Gerard Gallant to Pete DeBoer — and Lehner, who started the game Oct. 22 for the Hawks, has flipped sides.

Colliton touted the Hawks’ high attendance Saturday as an indication of their hunger to win, a trait they demonstrated while upsetting the Oilers. But he realizes the Knights are a more battle-tested and comprehensive foe. The Hawks will need an even bigger underdog effort to pull off another upset.

‘‘It was the case last series, too, that we needed everyone going to give ourselves a chance,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘It’s going to be more of the same. They have a lot of depth, and we need the full group every night [to be] ready for puck drop. If we do that, we have a chance to compete. But we need everyone going.’’

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