The Chicago Blackhawks are shuffling things up a little ahead of Sunday night's game against long time rivals the Minnesota Wild.
According to a report from Chicago Blackhawks insider Scott Powers newly appointed Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton is making four line up changes tonight, all of which appear to be designed to give the Blackhawks some additional speed against the veteran Wild line up that they will be facing this evening. Entering the Blackhawks line up tonight will be 28 year old defenseman Jan Rutta and 21 year old Blackhawks forward Alexandre Fortin, and stepping out to make room will be 28 year old defenseman Brandon Manning and 39 year old veteran defenseman Chris Kunitz.
Perhaps the least surprising move here is the decision to pull Manning out of the line up, given the former Flyers' defenseman's struggles this season. Manning has produced just two points from the blue line in 16 games with 1 goal and 1 assist and thus far boast a plus minus rating of -8 as a member of the Blackhawks. Additionally Manning has had some glaring mistakes from the blue line, mistakes that include an own goal against the aforementioned Flyers. Rutta on the other hand has been much more productive with 1 goals and 4 assists in just 15 games and perhaps more importantly he hasn't made the kind of flaring mistakes that Manning has.
Sitting Chris Kunitz for Fortin also makes a lot of sense given the fact that the Blackhawks need to get some younger guys going in their line up. Fortin is 18 years young than Kunitz and that means that he has considerably less experience than the nearly 40 year old veteran, but it also means his legs at 18 years younger than Kunitz's. It would be in the organizations best interest to get a player like Fortin going as quickly as possible given that he can be a weapon for years to come.
Last but not least the Blackhawks also announced who would be starting in net ahead of tonight's rivalry game and unsurprisingly Colliton is going back to veteran Corey Crawford. The match ups against the Wild have proven to be very important for the Blackhawks and Colliton wants to give his boys the best possible chance to win.