It looks as if Chicago Blackhawks veteran forward Kris Versteeg, will re-enter the lineup in Game 7 on Sunday night. Versteeg had struggled in Game 5 which led Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to replace him with Sheldon Brookbank.
Based on this morning’s skate, it seems that Versteeg skated alongside Brandon Bollig and Michal Handzus in the fourth line. The top two lines will remain the same while the third line will have some changes as well. It now looks to be comprised of Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith. These three on the third line have played off and on together throughout Game 5 and 6 and have seen great results, prompting the line to start this way in Game 7.
“They played a lot in the last two games,” Quenneville stated referring to the third line. “They scored a big goal for us last game. They give us some speed, some ability to check. I think they give us some balance, as well. I thought the three of them worked well together two games ago, played together a lot, for sure the overtime part.”
The Blackhawks have managed to come back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Los Angeles Kings to force a Game 7. Tonight the winner of the Western Conference Finals will be decided in addition to who will go on to the Stanley Cup Finals to battle the New York Rangers.
Chicago’s projected lineup according to the NHL is as follows:
Bryan Bickell – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Brandon Saad – Andrew Shaw – Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp – Marcus Kruger – Ben Smith
Brandon Bollig – Michal Handzus – Kris Versteeg
Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy – Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya – Michal Rozsival
Scratched: Sheldon Brookbank, Peter Regin, Joakim Nordstrom, Jeremy Morin, David Rundblad, Klas Dahlbeck