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At the Rink: Blackhawks vs. Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- The Chicago Blackhawks and the Montreal Canadiens are each consolidating their big guns to get themselves back on track Tuesday at Bell Centre.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville has put superstar forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together on a line with Ben Smith. Toews and Kane each have eight points in 12 games.

"These guys should be leading our offense and usually you like them spread to give us more of a balanced attack," Quenneville said. "But putting them back together, I think they like playing together and right now we are looking for a little more scoring. There are some other parts of our game that have been positive, but a consistent attack, and how we play, I think we can enhance by getting some more scoring."

The Blackhawks have scored two goals or fewer in six of their past seven games while going 2-5-0. A 1-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday marked the second consecutive loss by that score.

"We've never had a lack of production like we've had over a stretch here, so we're looking for some consistency on the offensive side of things," Quenneville said. "We think we're giving up a consistent amount defensively, but we're looking for some offense."

Montreal coach Michel Therrien is reuniting defensemen P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov. Subban had been paired mostly with Alexei Emelin through Montreal's first 12 games. Emelin will swap spots with Markov and pair up with Tom Gilbert.

"At the end of the day, I've said it at the start of training camp, I'm comfortable playing with any D-man on our team," Subban said. "It doesn't change anything for me. Obviously we still need to play a tight-checking game. We want to stay out of the box and be disciplined. Obviously, playing together [with Markov], there's a lot of chemistry there in terms of us playing on the power play and we've had a lot of success when we've played together, so that's always great to know, but by the same token, whether I'm with [Jarred Tinordi], [Mike Weaver] or [Gilbert], you want to make sure you're playing the right way."

Canadiens forward Michael Bournival will make his season debut. Bournival, who had seven goals and 14 points in 70 games with Montreal in 2013-14, takes Travis Moen's spot on the fourth line with Manny Malhotra and Brandon Prust.

Subban said Bournival's speed is an asset with the Canadiens on a 1-2-1 skid. Montreal lost 6-2 to the Calgary Flames on Sunday to begin a stretch of six of seven games at home.

"We can't be looking at guys coming into the lineup or guys going out of the lineup to spark our team," Subban said. "All 23 guys have got to say, 'Hey listen, am I playing my best hockey right now?' And I don't think there's anybody on this team that can say they've played their best over the past five games, so we have to be better and we have to start that [Tuesday]. We can't afford to wait. Our schedule is tough. We've got some good teams coming into our building over the next two weeks and we have to be ready to play now."

Here are the projected lineups:


Ben Smith - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Andrew Shaw - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Brad Richards - Jeremy Morin

Bryan Bickell - Marcus Kruger - Kris Versteeg

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Johnny Oduya

Trevor Van Riemsdyk - David Rundblad

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Michal Rozsival

Injured: Daniel Carcillo (knee)


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

Michael Bournival - Manny Malhotra - Brandon Prust

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Tom Gilbert

Nathan Beaulieu - Mike Weaver

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Jarred Tinordi, Jiri Sekac, Travis Moen

Injured: None

Status report: Defenseman David Rundblad will make his second straight start after he was left out of the lineup for seven of the previous eight games. Bournival had three goals and four points in four games with Hamilton of the American Hockey League. Moen sits out for the first time in nine games.

Who's hot: Crawford has allowed four goals in two games, both losses, since returning from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for six games. Pacioretty has scored in consecutive games. He has seven points in Montreal's five home games.

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