CHICAGO -- The one positive Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville may be able to take from losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals is possibly discovering permanent linemates for Patrick Kane.
Quenneville turned to a line of Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Kane in Game 5 against the Kings, and the trio immediately clicked. Over the series’ last three games, Kane had nine points, Saad had six points and Shaw had four.
Consistency in linemates, especially a center, would be a change for Kane. He shared his line with nearly every Blackhawks forward, including six different centers, this past season.
“Maybe we found that center with [Shaw] and [Saad] and him as a line, but I just think whether it’s two of those guys or one of the two with him, they could be linemates for a while,” Quenneville said on Tuesday. “I just think Kaner gives you that luxury as a team and as a staff that you’ve got to use him in so many different situations because he gives you so much. And having that one centerman, we’ll see, but I think the luxury of our team is when you don’t play him together with [Jonathan Toews], we have so much more concerns for our opponents and two real dangerous lines.”
Kane was hopeful he, Saad and Shaw would stay together, but he wasn’t going to tell Quenneville how to do his job.
“That’s kind of out of my control, to be honest with you,” Kane said when asked if he’d like more consistency with a specific center. “We know with our team, there’s a lot of different combinations that can work. There are certain situations where Joel obviously like to switch up the lines. No matter who you’re playing, you’re going to try and do the same thing night in and night out, try to get the puck, create chances and produce every night. That’s something I don’t really worry about too much.
“I think we saw a little success at the end of the year with myself, Shaw, Saader. They’re both two young enthusiastic guys who want to do well and play hard. We found some success there. Just talking to them guys, I think it’s important to have a strong summer and make sure if we’re playing together when we come back we’re ready to go right off the bat.”
Shaw and Saad were also optimistic they could continue to play together next season. Shaw even planned on it.
“Who wouldn’t?” Shaw said. “They’re both great players, both easy to play with. So I look forward and I’m excited to start the season with them next year.
Saad felt the same.
“We gelled pretty quick there,” Saad said. “Who knows if we play a full season how well we can do. I’m hoping, but I guess we’ll see come training camp.”