Before the Stanley Cup Final began, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville decided to split up the dynamic duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane against the Boston Bruins.
Neither player had a point in Chicago's 4-3 triple overtime victory in Game 1. Kane assisted on the Blackhawks lone goal in the Game 2 loss. And Game 3 was a shutout loss.
So Toews and Kane have combined for one assist in three games of the championship series, in which the Blackhawks are facing a 2-1 deficit.
Is it time to get back to basics? Should the Blackhawks reunite Toews and Kane? If so, who should play on the left side?
In the regular season, Kane led the team in scoring with 55 points, followed closely by Toews at 48. Both players shared the team lead in goals with 23.
Currently, Toews is centering a line with Marian Hossa, who missed Game 3 due to injury, and rookie Brandon Saad. Kane is playing on a line with Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus.
Neither line appears to be showing much offensive spark, especially in the last two games with the Blackhawks scoring just one goal on Tuukka Rask.
Another power outage in Game 4 could result in Quenneville's crew heading home facing elimination on Saturday night.
So it seems like an easy decision to put your two best players on the ice at the same time to maximize your offensive output.
But doing so would give the Bruins the opportunity to utilize the imposing Zdeno Chara against the undisputed top line in every situation. If Chara and defensive partner Dennis Seidenberg are successful in neutralizing Toews and Kane, the Blackhawks would be left with a weaker second line that would be required to take on a bigger role.
Should Toews and Kane be put back together, who should join them on the left side? Saad has only five points in the playoffs so far, including a goal in Game 1. Sharp is tied for the team lead in playoff scoring with 15 points, including the lone goal in Game 2. Bryan Bickell was the Hawks most consistent player coming into the Final but his ice time has gone down considerably in each game - it was less than 12 minutes in Game 3. Having said that, he would bring a size element that Toews and Kane may require to somewhat offset Chara's physicality.
Should the Blackhawks stay the course and keep Toews and Kane apart in hopes that one of their lines will start producing? Or should Quenneville put all his eggs in one basket and take his chances against Chara? And who should be the third egg on the line?
As always, it's Your! Call.