The Chicago Blackhawks are in the midst of a memorable season that began with a 24-game unbeaten streak and could end with… well, the possibilities abound. There’s been a lot of success, and with that a lot of credit given to Patrick Kane’s hot start and the special teams’ and goaltending improvement.

Save a little of that credit for the head coach, too.

Chicago is the team the rest of the Western Conference is aiming for, and coach Joel Quenneville deserves credit for putting the right pieces in the right places this season. There have been a few shrewd Q moves that have led to this. Here’s a quick synopsis:


Andrew Shaw at third-line center? Dave Bolland at second-line center? It looked interesting when Quenneville decided on that in January. Shaw had played center in Rockford during the lockout, but it wasn’t at the NHL level. Bolland had had quick stints at No. 2 center before, but was so dependable on the third line that he was usually back there quickly.

But the two moves have worked. Shaw has become part of a great third line with Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg -- Shaw has also done well in another new role: power-play net pest. Shaw’s appreciative of the chance.

“It shows he has confidence in all of his players,” he said.

Bolland, who now has more than 20 games this season at second-line center, is feeling more comfortable.

“It’s a different role for me,” he said. “I was going against top lines and being sure of it. I knew what my job was. It’s different now, I’m going more into the offensive zone but I don’t want to lose (focus) on the defensive zone.”


Twenty-year-old Brandon Saad plays on special teams and the top line. Role players take the ice late in a critical situation. Quenneville has put a lot of different players in a lot of different circumstances this season, and it’s bred a trust that’s gone through the lineup.

“For the most part, they’re trying to give everyone a chance,” said Jonathan Toews, who added Quenneville. “We’re not slimming down the lineup to two or three lines. There are always four lines rolling. We’re relying on everybody, empowering everybody. That comes from the coaching staff. And everyone feels really involved.”

Shaw, who is taking on the aforementioned roles, agreed.

“He’s played me a lot of minutes out there in key moments and late in the periods,” Shaw said. “We (third liners) have a lot of offensive chances created just with our cycle game, and he keeps letting us know that.”