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Thursday, May 8, 2014
Quenneville searching for balance in lines

By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, the chemist, unveiled his newest line mixtures Thursday after spending some time in the lab following his team's Game 3 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Quenneville's new first line has Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Ben Smith together. The first line had been Bickell, Toews and Marian Hossa in recent games.

The new second line includes Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and Patrick Kane, shaking up the previous group of Patrick Sharp, Smith and Kane.

The new third line is Sharp, Michal Handzus and Hossa. It had previously been Saad, Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom.

The new fourth line is Brandon Bollig, Nordstrom and Jeremy Morin. The fourth line has varied from game to game, but it included Bollig, Handzus and Kris Versteeg last game.

"We're looking for balance and maybe all lines, a little more threat to score on all the lines," Quenneville said after practice on Thursday. "That's what we're looking for a little bit. Offense, defensive reliability at the same time of having maybe more offense spread out throughout our lineup."

The line changes come after the Blackhawks were held without a goal and limited to a season-low 19 shots on net in a 4-0 loss to the Wild in Game 3 of their second-round series on Tuesday.

Sharp isn't surprised to see Quenneville alter the lines.

"It's something we've come to expect from Joel," Sharp said. “There's different combinations all the time. We trust in our coaching staff to make adjustments through a series and how players are playing and whatever the reason may be. I think everyone in our locker room's comfortable with playing with each other, and it's no big deal to us."