CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks appear to be making some changes to their lineup for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins.
Coach Joel Quenneville jumbled his forwards at practice Tuesday, including putting Marian Hossa on the top line with Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews.
Brandon Bollig is also expected to replace Viktor Stalberg in the lineup.
Bollig skated in Stalberg’s place on the fourth line alongside centre Marcus Kruger and right-winger Michael Frolik.
“They played well together, that line, all year long,” Quenneville said. “It could happen.”
The 26-year-old left-winger last played in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarter-finals against the Minnesota Wild on May 5.
Stalberg has three assists and a minus-1 rating in 15 playoff games.
The change at the top drops playoff breakout star Bryan Bickell to the second line with Michal Handzus and Patrick Kane. It’s perhaps a chance to spread the Blackhawks’ top scorers out against Zdeno Chara and the Bruins’ defence.
“You still have Toews, Sharp and Hossa on one line,” Kane said. “That’s a very, very powerful line. I’m with Handzus and Bickell, who have both been playing very well through playoffs.”
Bickell did not work on either power-play unit Tuesday. David Bolland is set to resume his role as the checking-line centre.
This is not the first time Quenneville has toyed with things during the Blackhawks’ run, and players don’t seem to mind the shuffling.
“Joel does a great job of mixing and matching lines,” Sharp said. “He’s got a great feel for our team. He knows how to run a bench, so as a player I trust Joel knows what he’s doing.”
The Bruins practised at TD Garden in Boston before flying to Chicago.
Coach Claude Julien did not showcase any changes, and it’s likely the Bruins’ lineup is the same one that was on the ice at the end of the Eastern Conference final sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game 1 is Wednesday in Chicago.