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Hawks react with line changes

CHICAGO -- One game and one loss into their playoff series with the Nashville Predators, and the Chicago Blackhawks are making major changes, though they don’t necessarily view them that way.

It would be easier to explain what forward line or defensive pair did not look different at practice on Saturday. If their drills meant anything, only the fourth line will remain intact.

"Most of us played together in some sort of fashion the whole year so why not mix things up and see if we can find something new," winger Andrew Ladd said after practice. "Maybe it will make a difference."

Ladd skated on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Dave Bolland centered Patrick Kane and Sharp while John Madden was between Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer.

"It keeps things fresh," Toews said. "We're not re-inventing the wheel here. It doesn’t matter who you're playing with, we can all play better. If we do that we’ll find a way to win on Sunday."

On some teams, these changes might elicit more concern out of the players, but the Hawks think their top nine forwards are somewhat interchangeable, especially the wingers.

"I've never been on a team where I've basically played with every forward," Madden said recently. "It's no big deal."

Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t completely commit to his new lines up front, though he was more definitive about his defensive pairings. Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith will be reunited for Sunday’s Game 2 as will Brent Sopel and Niklas Hjarmalsson. Dustin Byfuglien skates with Jordan Hendry.

Quenneville didn’t go in depth as to why the changes on the blue line, except to say he wants Seabrook and Keith together.

"I just think that's a good option for us," Quenneville said. "The familiarity of Duncs [Duncan Keith] and Seabs [Brent Seabrook] is something we can use to our advantage."

Byfuglien was asked if he was surprised by the changes.

"Yes and no," Byfuglien said. "Things change around here all the time. I’ll probably be back with Keith on Sunday. Who knows?"

Predators coach Barry Trotz was asked on Saturday if the changes surprised him.

"No, no. I have a good idea why," Trotz said. "We'll do what we do. There's adjustments. I don't expect the Hawks to change their whole system or anything. They’re going to make some adjustments in terms of lines and maybe matchups, D [defensive] pairings, all those types of things. And I’m going to try to counteract that. That’ll be my goal. It’ll be a little bit of a chess match."

The other theme at practice on Saturday was patience. The Predators displayed more of it than the Blackhawks in Game 1. Quenneville would like that to change.

"[The Predators] play a very patient game," he said. "They really move well together as a group. Being smart, hard and patient to play against is something we need to add to our game and bring it for the whole game."

Toews agreed.

"I can even just look at myself personally, in the first period getting frustrated [Friday] night," Toews said. "We really have to wait for those opportunities to come instead of forcing them when they are not there because this is really a team that takes advantage of that and turns it back the other way when you try to force something. We’ll be better in that area."

Being patient isn’t the easiest thing for a speedy team that likes to move the puck up the ice quickly. The Hawks have proven they can adapt quickly to a grittier style when called for. They need to do it again.

"I think everyone in here knows we have to be better than we were in the first game," Ladd said. "They’re a very patient team that waits for its chances, and we didn’t finish the job."