While others might scratch their head and wonder why Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has been reluctant to play Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the same line this season, the captain just goes with the flow.
For one of the rare times this season, and partly because Kris Versteeg was out of the lineup with an upper-body injury, Toews and Kane were together Sunday night against San Jose for more minutes than not and quickly flashed the chemistry they've had in the past.
"It doesn't take long for us to get going again once we're thrown on the same line," said Toews, who set up Kane's second-period goal. "I think we've both been able to contribute and make things happen when we're on the ice separately, but it never hurts when we go out there and make plays together.
"We're so used to playing together. We were just talking about it the other day and how weird it is. We're so used to being on the same line, through training camp and every single practice and every single game the last two years, and we've hardly been together at all this year."
Patrick Sharp skated with Toews and Kane for much of Sunday's 4-3 win over the Sharks.
"I think it worked pretty good," Toews said. "We had a few chances early on with Sharpie and then they took us apart for a little while there, but if we have the opportunity to be together, us three, I think we'll create quite a bit."
Sharp took some shifts at center as well, with Bryan Bickell skating with Toews and Kane as Quenneville continues to experiment for finding a replacement for Dave Bolland, who is out for at least the next three months following back surgery.
"Bick was playing well, and he's so useful in a lot of ways," Quenneville said. "You just try to change the line a little bit and get a little more balance."
The Hawks are in the market to acquire a center with some skill. Carolina's Matt Cullen is on their radar, although the veteran won't come cheap.
Another rumored center of interest is Florida's Dominic Moore, who would be cheaper to get than Cullen but is not as accomplished offensively. Moore has had trouble getting into the lineup in Florida.
Quenneville has an interesting decision ahead when Marian Hossa is ready to roll. Hossa almost certainly will play with Toews, but then does Kane stay on that line even though both he and Hossa prefer right wing? Or would Sharp play center on a line with Kane?
It sounds as if Toews would like to stay on a line with Kane, but that's to be determined and he understands why Quenneville has had them split up most of the season.
"You try and play as hard as you can and it doesn't matter who you're with," Toews said. "I wouldn't say Joel is concerned about how we play defensively, but he wants us to focus just on checking a little bit more, especially when we're together. He knows our chances are going to come."
Quenneville has looked to spread the offense around, so to speak, for much of the season with Hossa out, Toews missing six games with a concussion and now Bolland gone for months.
• As well as Bickell played against the Sharks, he was sent back to Rockford on Monday with Versteeg expected to return Thursday at Calgary.