CHICAGO – Through two weeks, the Blackhawks have painted just a small picture of what they’ll look like during the 2017-2018 season. So far, the portrait is looking pretty.
Joel Quenneville’s team sits at the top of the Western Conference with 9 points, compiling an early 4-1-1 record. That included a win on Saturday over Nashville, the team that knocked them team out of the playoffs last year.
It made for a lot of positive things for the coach to say about his team on Tuesday before the team hits the road to start a back-to-back against the Blues in St. Louis on Wednesday. He discussed the team’s strong goaltending behind Corey Crawford, along with better than thought depth in his defensive ranks.
But his most interesting compliment came with his fourth line and the nickname he assigned them.
“We’ve got an energy line that’s new to our team,” said Quenneville. “They’ve done a really good job of recognizing their identity and their roles.”
This would be the newly constructed line of Lance Bouma, Tommy Wingels and John Hayden. It consists of a cast-off from the Flames, a Chicago-native from the Sabres and a promising rookie that made his debut last season while still going to school at Yale.
Before the season, the Blackhawks nor their fans were spotlighting this line but it’s one that’s certainly caught the eye of their coach. Their +5 combined on the season and have accounted for just four points on the year so far, but their aggression and aforementioned energy adds a dynamic to this important fourth line.
“It’s exactly that,” said Bouma when asked specifically about Quenneville dubbing him and Wingels the “Energy Line.” “You’re creating energy every shift and you’re responsible, hopefully try to keep it in their end and keep them second-guessing around the ice.”
Building chemistry on a line is one of the common topics with any hockey team, especially early in the season. Wingles credits the similar mindset of the group and the willingness to find a specific way to impact the team for their early success.
“None of us are trying to ‘reinvent the wheel’ the wheel out there – the simple play is most often the best play for guys like us. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. I think the simple play is the better play 95 percent of the plays for everyone,” said Wingels. “It’s just about playing fast and playing physical and I think being tough to play against, both offensively, defensively. As a group we’ve talked about it a lot – what can we do better, how can we impact this team, how can we be a difference-maker and I think we’ve done a good job thus far.”
Just like this entire Blackhawks team in the early stages of a long season.