- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Despite being part of the Blackhawks' top possession line along with Bryan Bickell and Jeremy Morin over the past three games, Regin will be a healthy scratch against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. He will be replaced by Ben Smith as the third-line center.
The Blackhawks' lines during their morning skate on Wednesday were Patrick Sharp-Andrew Shaw-Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg-Michal Handzus-Brandon Saad, Bickell-Smith-Morin and Brandon Bollig-Marcus Kruger-Joakim Nordstrom. Saad did not play in the Blackhawks' last game.
"Well, for sure [Saad] was coming back in, so [Smith], we put him in that spot here and Benny's been on a little bit of a roll," Quenneville said. "With some things we're looking at in our lineup that could potentially happen in the playoffs, we want to try [that] as well."
Regin has been in and out of the Blackhawks' lineup consistently since he was acquired from the New York Islanders in February. He was last a healthy scratch on March 30.
But after he, Bickell and Morin began showing some potential against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, that line began receiving more ice time in the following two games. Regin had a combined plus-three rating in wins on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. He had a 66.7 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 38 shots for, 19 against with him on the ice) in the three games.
Quenneville has a few other lineup decisions ahead. The Blackhawks are expected to return Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for the beginning of the playoffs. Nordstrom will likely be taken out of the lineup for one of the two players.
Morin and Handzus are the other likely candidates to be scratched. Quenneville recently said he expected to utilize Handzus in a similar role to the second-line center one he played in the playoffs last season.
Morin could ultimately be the odd man out despite producing as much as anyone lately. He had two goals and two assists and a 73.7 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 42 shots for, 15 against when he was on the ice) during the past three games.
Quenneville hasn't let on to what he plans to do yet.
"We love tough decisions, and we think the depth is going to very important as you go along here," Quenneville said.
18dDarren Rovell and Katie Strang