With the first 15 games of their 2017-18 campaign in the books, the Chicago Blackhawks hold the second-worst record in the Central Division, an awkward look for the usual Western Conference powerhouse.
Looking for an offensive spark as his team sits 18th in the league in goals-for per game, head coach Joel Quenneville is going old school, reuniting stars Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp.
Chicago has long thrived off of keeping Toews and Kane apart at 5-on-5, but with the Blackhawks failing to light the lamp as often as they need, the club is hoping they can right the ship by loading up their top line.
“That’s the goal,” Kane told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. “Create some magic.”
The trio’s potential success lies in the diversity of their elite skillsets, according to Sharp.
“(We’re) three different players,” Sharp said. “You’ve got a playmaker/puckhandler (Kane), a grinder (Toews) and a shooter (Sharp). We all have speed, and we all kind of think the same way. It’s been awhile since we’ve been a unit … but hopefully we can do something.”
His captain echoed that sentiment, adding that the Blackhawks’ offensive corps as a whole might benefit from a new look.
“Even if it’s something that’s not long-term, if it’s just for the time being, we want to go out there and just play,” Toews said. “The more chances we get, eventually something has got to go in for us. It’s a fresh start, and hopefully the three of us can generate something.”
Kane leads the three offensively thus far this season, pacing the team with 14 points through 15 games. Toews sits right behind him with 10 points up to this point, while Sharp has just four points to his name.
Chicago will see their new first line in action on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Philadelphia Flyers. But Quenneville said he’s hoping improved offensive success comes for more than just his top trio.
“We still feel there’s enough offence in our group here that they can recapture it,” Quenneville told Lazerus. “If one line can score, maybe the next line gets ignited. We keep moving it around. Technically, defensively, structurally, we’ve been fine. We have to execute better with the puck. Let’s be confident with it and make some plays.”