On the Blackhawks: The art of compromise - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

On the Blackhawks: The art of compromise

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Sometimes compromising works best for all involved and Blackhawk fans will be hoping the same. To start this season it appears there has been a meeting of the minds between head coach Joel Quenneville and GM Stan Bowman.

In the past, Bowman has promoted the idea of Patrick Kane playing center on the second line. Quenneville has been a staunch supporter of Dave Bolland being used as the third line center. It also seemed as if Coach Q was lukewarm about Kane moving to center from wing. If not, it took quite awhile for Quenneville to go in that direction.

So at the first Hawks practice on Sunday, a compromise of some fashion seems to have taken place. Bolland was centering the second line and his wingers were Kane and Patrick Sharp. My thinking is Bolland will respond to the challenge and do fine in a more offensive role. Kane and Sharp have great chemistry and should work well together.

Quenneville preferred Bolland on the third line because it gave his team a match-up advantage. As has been pointed out, last year when the Hawks focused on defense they were not a scoring juggernaut. Maybe playing Bolland up a slot will provide more offense and Quenneville believes this is a necessary trade off.

The bigger issue is whether playing time will be slanted even more so toward the top two lines. With the compacted schedule this may have been the time to look for the third line to play a greater role. Time will tell if Quenneville will allocate ice time in a more even fashion this season.

The heir apparent to Bolland's checking line pivot position is Andrew Shaw. It didn't come as a complete shock Shaw was going to be moved from wing to center because that was his role with the Rockford Ice Hogs of late.

Maybe Marcus Kreuger's star has lost some luster with Quenneville, as he will see action on the fourth line it appears. At first blush I do have some trepidation about Shaw being used on a checking line.

In my mind, Shaw can be more than a role player, he can be an important part of the Blackhawks. That is if he can control his emotions and stay on the ice. The key will be whether Shaw will be able to frustrate his opponent, effectively check, plus stay out of the penalty box. If so, his latest assignment could work out well but there are other question marks concerning the newly formed third line.

Can Bryan Bickell become more consistent? Will Viktor Stalberg be able to play a two-way game?

Bickell needs to play to his size to be most effective. If that doesn't happen he won't get another contract from Bowman after this season is over. Stalberg is in an even more interesting position.

My feeling is Stalberg should be played as a first or second line forward now or be used as part of trade. After this season, Stalberg is an unrestricted free agent and may look to leave Chicago for a chance to play as a top six forward. If Stalberg were to flourish in a top six role here and build off his 20 goal season, the Hawks would at least know more about his offensive capabilities. Stalberg has a nice shot and outstanding speed, not exactly qualities looked for in a checking line player.

Capturing the left wing position on the top line is Daniel Carcillo, another player being cast in an interesting role. Obviously Carcillo is a Bowman favorite. Hockey logic points to the same as shortly after suffering a serious season-ending knee injury, Carcillo was re-signed to a two-year contract extension.

It isn't often a player of Carcillo's stature is quickly inked to a two-year contract extension so soon after knee surgery. Bowman put a high value on Carcillo and gave him a two-year deal before he could even run up a flight of stairs. Maybe Bowman is correct, after all the Hawks had a very nice record last season with "Car Bomb" in the lineup.

It seems at least to start, Bowman and Quenneville believe Carcillo can play a physical role and also be able to skate with two of the more skilled players in Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Can Carcillo escape the scrutiny of the officials is a bigger question. Carcillo, like Shaw has to stay on the ice while being able to frustrate opponents.

To compound Carcillo's task he is not a favorite of NHL officials who seem to hold a grudge, at least in his case. It will take a lot for them to give Carcillo a fair shake. Although Carcillo deserves his reputation he does gets scrutinized more than most.

To wrap up the offense the fourth line of Jamal Mayers, Krueger and Michael Frolik is an interesting blend. We will have to see how often they are on the ice, but I do like Mayers at wing instead of center. Playing wing is less taxing and maybe it will pay dividends for him later. In each of the last two season Mayers hasn't been a factor in the playoffs when his experience could be a benefit. Most likely Brandon Bollig will see some action when his size and toughness is needed. Time will tell if Brandon Saad or other Ice Hogs will crack the big club lineup.

Bowman, like most general managers, would like to give his guys a chance to succeed before making any trades. By design that is the popular program, after all a GM is the one who puts together the roster so initially it is logical to give them a chance to do well.

Waiting some before making roster changes makes sense but the general managers who recognize deficiencies the quickest will have the best chance to succeed. This will be especially true in a shorter season.

Al's Shots

No matter what the line combinations are going to be the Hawks do have a sore spot. There is only Toews that can be considered as a very good face off man.

Because Toews is so much better than everyone else he is on the ice taking faceoffs more than he should be. At some point that does take a toll and hopefully another player or two will step up and win over 50 percent of their faceoffs.

On Friday, we will take a look at the defensemen as well as the schedule. I will also discuss the goalkeeping and preview the season opener.

Follow me on Twitter@AlCimaglia

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