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Blackhawks shake up lines for Game 2

Chicago changes combinations on three units at practice after shutout loss to Predators

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It didn't take long for Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to shake up his forward lines in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After mixing and matching during a 1-0 loss to the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series on Thursday, Quenneville has more changes planned for Game 2 at United Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2).

During a rare in-series practice on Friday, different combinations were used on the first, third and fourth lines. Rookies Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz were interchanged from where they started Game 1, as Hartman alternated with rookie John Hayden at left wing on the top line. Schmaltz skated at left wing with the third unit.

"I think that's an option, that we could either flip-flop them for a segment there or keep them there," said Quenneville, who had four rookies make his NHL postseason debut in Game 1. "It's something we can look at."

 

[RELATED: Complete Blackhawks-Predators series coverage]

 

Schmaltz started Game 1 at left wing on the top line with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Richard Panik but didn't last long there. The Blackhawks were outshot 11-6 in the first period, went without a shot on goal for a span of 13:46, and trailed 1-0 after a defensive breakdown by Toews' group.

Schmaltz, who earned a role as Toews' left wing during the final two months of the regular season, was moved to the fourth line to start the second period. He was then benched for 7:00 before playing his way back into the rotation.

"I thought I was OK," said Schmaltz, who was disappointed about the demotion. "I thought I could have held on to the puck a little bit more. I don't know if I was nervous or what I was, but it felt like I was just getting rid of the puck when I had it. That's not what I'm accustomed to, so hopefully I can learn from that and bounce back in [Game 2]."

Quenneville said Schmaltz could get another opportunity to play with Toews and Panik again. They fourth line also was changed at practice, with Dennis Rasmussen replacing Hayden after being scratched in Game 1.

Marian Hossa took a maintenance day and didn't practice; he was replaced on the third line by Tomas Jurco and rookie Vinnie Hinostroza.

"We're ready for anything," Hartman said. "A lot of guys have played together throughout the year. Everyone has played with everybody at some point. That's if guys are injured or just flip-flopping lines in the middle of a game. Everyone has that familiarity with each other and it helps a lot."

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