Looking for a Spark, Derek King Separates His Top Line

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Looking for a Spark, Derek King Separates His Top Line

Chicago Blackhawks

In a season where Derek King and the Blackhawks couldn’t count on much from their lineup, they have been able to rely on scoring from the DeBrincat-Strome-Kane line just about every night since early March. That’s when King grouped the trio of leading scorers during the third period of a contest with the Tampa Bay Lightning and rode their nuclear scoring capabilities for over a month.

Since their first full game against Anaheim on March 8, the 12-17-88 line has accounted for 43.1 percent of Chicago’s goals, with Kane, Strome, and DeBrincat accounting for 19 goals and 38 assists in the 14 games since. When the trio is on the ice together at even strength, the Blackhawks have outshot (121-110), out-chanced (112-98), and outscored (16-10) their opponents. Conversely, they’ve been dominated in all three categories when they’re not on the ice together, likely the reason that Derek King is breaking them up.

“I caved,” King said. “Didn’t want to, but we’ve lost six. It rattled in my brain a little too long, but we decided to shuffle them up a little bit.”

There’s no doubt that the 12-17-88 line has provided us with plenty of excitement over the last month, starting with Patrick Kane’s career-best six-point performance against the Ducks on March 8. Unfortunately, the rest of the lineup has struggled to generate much of anything. The Blackhawks are in the midst of a six-game losing streak, with Derek King desperately searching for the spark to help them wake up from their slumber and finish strong down the stretch.

“They’re good players,” King said. “They can produce, and maybe that gives us a little more balance in our scoring. Right now, with 11 games left, we’ve got to come up with some different approaches and just see what clicks, [and] what doesn’t. We could be shuffling them again next game, so we’ll see.”

King rolled out new lines on Saturday at practice featuring a new-look top line of Philipp Kurashev, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane. Here’s how King put together the rest of the lines yesterday:

•   Alex DeBrincat – Dylan Strome – Taylor Raddysh

•   Lukas Reichel – Kirby Dach – Sam Lafferty

•   Boris Katchouk – Reese Johnson – MacKenzie Entwistle

King said on Saturday after practice that Tyler Johnson and Dominik Kubalík will be healthy scratches within the forward’s group, with Caleb Jones rotating out in favor of Riley Stillman on the blue line for tonight’s game with the Dallas Stars.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.