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Blackhawks line changes pay off

You knew it was going to be different when Hawks' coach Joel Quenneville opened Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final with a line of Andrew Shaw centering Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad.

According to, those three had an aggregate of 2,781 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time during the regular season and playoffs before Wednesday, but they had been together for just 63 of those minutes.

The next three lines Quenneville sent out had similar numbers -- such as Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, who would stay together most of the Hawks' 2-1, series-tying victory over the Lightning, but had previously been together for only 117 of their approximately 2,892 minutes this season.

Both Sharp and Hossa assisted as Toews put in a rebound for the game's first goal.

The line on the ice when Saad scored the game-winning goal, which included Kane and Brad Richards, had previously been together exactly 9 minutes, 39 seconds of a season total 2,932:23.

Such an amount of juggling was notable even for Quenneville, long known as a coach quick to change personnel in an effort to generate offense or get better defensive matchups.

For nearly all the game's penultimate minute, they had a line of Toews, Kane and Andrew Desjardins, who had never played together.

To Desjardins, the shifts are not as confusing as they seem because they do not affect the team's approach.

"We know what our game plan is, systematically what is going on," Desjardins said.

Who knows what Quenneville might try in Saturday night's Game 5 at Tampa?


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