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Unlikely line thriving for Blackhawks

4/5/2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If there had been odds on which of the Chicago Blackhawks' lines would have been the most dominant in the past two games, the line of Bryan Bickell, Peter Regin and Jeremy Morin likely wouldn’t have been given the greatest odds.

As for reasons to bet against them, start with the fact that Bickell, Regin and Morin had all fallen out of favor with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and been made healthy scratches at times this season. Regin was last scratched as recently as March 27. Morin had been scratched March 30.

Plus, all three had dealt with their share of inconsistencies and adversities this season. Bickell just returned to the lineup Thursday after missing six games with an injury. He’s missed a total of 23 games due to injuries this season. Morin failed to make the Blackhawks out of training camp, has played 47 games in the AHL and is now on his third stint with the Blackhawks this season. Regin was getting little time with the New York Islanders and was traded to the Blackhawks in February, but he’s been in and out of the lineup in Chicago, as well. Together, they totaled 21 points on the season prior to Thursday.

Despite all the reasons why the trio might not be successful together, the three players combined to form the Blackhawks’ best line over the last two games.

The line scored two of the Blackhawks’ six goals in wins over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. And the three players led the team’s forwards in Corsi (shot differential) in both games.

On Thursday, the line didn’t see the ice a whole lot, but made the most of what it did get. All three players played less than 10 minutes against the Wild. Despite that, Regin led the Blackhawks with a 71.4 Corsi percentage. The Blackhawks had 10 shots for and four shots against when he was on the ice. Morin followed with a 69.2 Corsi (9-4) and Bickell was third with a 66.7 Corsi (10-5). Bickell scored and Morin had an assist in a 3-2 shootout win Thursday.

On Friday, Quenneville started to see what the line could do and upped the players’ minutes. Regin played 12:03, which is the second-most ice time he’s received since joining the Blackhawks. Morin played a season-high 13:24. Bickell played 11:28.

The line didn’t let Quenneville down. Bickell led the forwards with a 73.9 Corsi percentage. The Blackhawks had 17 shots for and six against when Bickell was on the ice. Morin was next with a 68.0 Corsi (17-8) and Regin was third with a 65.4 Corsi (17-9). Morin scored in the 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets.

Quenneville spoke highly of the line after the win Friday.

“I liked the way they played tonight,” Quenneville said. “They all contributed and they all had speed and they had pace. They had traffic at the net. They were dangerous off the rush. It was a real nice combo. I know sometimes you try things that work. I thought they were a big factor tonight.”

The line’s future will likely be in doubt once the playoffs arrive and Blackhawks get everyone back. But Quenneville was certainly pleased with Bickell, Regin and Morin on Friday, and that’s a positive sign for the line remaining intact for at least a few more games.