CHICAGO – Strategies have begun to take shape for the Blackhawks and Bruins as both teams took the ice to practice on Tuesday – the Bruins at TD Garden before hopping a plane for the Windy City, and the Blackhawks practicing at their United Center home. Both teams showed their hands to some extent.
Chicago's Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews skated on different forward lines, with Kane on the right wing alongside Michael Handzus and Bryan Bickel.
Toews had centered a line with Bickel and Kane in the final two games against the Los Angeles Kings to good results, including the hat trick outburst from Kane that eliminated LA in Game 5. But it would appear the Blackhawks are now moving away from that combination against the defensive-minded Bruins.
Toews was centering a line with Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp in a high-powered outfit that should probably draw the attention of shutdown defensemen pairing Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg.
That would leave Patrice Bergeron’s line to tangle with Kane and Co., and opens the door for Brad Marchand to mix it up a bit with the explosive Blackhawks winger.
Don’t expect the Bruins to give away any of those match-ups beforehand, but a Blackhawks team that’s been the NHL’s best club from beginning to end this year, is expecting their biggest test yet from the Black and Gold.
“They’re a team that doesn’t have a lot of holes. We’re the same kind of team,” said Toews. “It’s going to come down to who wants it more. The feeling is as confident as ever with this group, and we’re looking forward to getting that first game under your belt in front of the home crowd.
“Tomorrow we have play the best game of our season, and then we’ll worry about what we have to do for the next one after that.”
Here were the line combos for the Blackhawks: