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Blackhawks reunite Toews and Kane for Game 5

Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 2:07 PM ET
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
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For the first time in a long time, the Blackhawks plan to use center Jonathan Toews (L) and right wing Patrick Kane together on the same forward line in Saturday's Game 5 against Detroit. (Photo by Dave Sandford)

CHICAGO – Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is way it appears that the Blackhawks will make one big adjustment to their forward lines for tonight’s elimination game against the Red Wings at the United Center.

Throughout the Western Conference semifinals, Chicago has played its top scoring forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on separate lines. But the two will work together on a line with left wing Patrick Sharp as centers Michal Handzus and Toews switch roles for Game 5.

Handzus, the 36-year-old who was re-acquired by the Blackhawks at the April trade deadline, will center a line between Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell.

The opposite was true for the Red Wings in Game 7 of the Anaheim series, when coach Mike Babcock elected to reunite Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the same line.

“They’re two very skilled players,” Zetterberg said. “They’ve been playing with each other for many years, so they know each other good and it’s going to be a challenge for us to handle that.”

Kane has been responsible for a third of the Blackhawks’ offense in this series, netting two goals, while Toews, who tied for the team lead in goals during the regular season, has been held off the score sheet by the Red Wings’ defense, led by goalie Jimmy Howard, who has allowed just two goals in the last three games.

The Blackhawks are desperate, but Kane is excited at the prospect of playing alongside Chicago’s captain in a must-win game.

“We played a couple of years ago together a lot and we were hot, scoring a lot of goals,” Kane said. “You want to think about scoring chances and creating things. … As far as being a big game player, I think all of us want to be that guy.”

The ’Hawks hope the move frees Toews from the shackles of being shadowed by Zetterberg, who has done a magnificent defensive job against the Toews.

Now Zetterberg most likely must contend with a much bigger Handzus, who is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds.

“He’s good on faceoffs, he’s strong on his stick,” said Zetterberg, of the 14-year veteran. “You have to try to move a lot, skate a lot and try to find open spots. He’s been around the league for many, many years. He’s a good player, and if that’s the case it will be a little different look for our line, but we’ll handle that in our way.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59