The sight of Niklas Hjalmarsson starting for the Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon in Detroit wasn't that surprising. The sight of him doing so alongside Duncan Keith was.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville shook up his defensive pairings for the first time all season, breaking up the long-standing duo of Keith and Seabrook, and the Swedish duo of Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya that played so well in the first half of the season they had taken over as starters for a stretch.
Seabrook skated with Nick Leddy, and Oduya was bumped down to the third pairing with Michal Rozsival.
"We don't mind the way they're playing, but I think over the course of the year we've probably had a different look with some of the pairs here," Quenneville said. "It's something we might try, see how it looks, just in case. You can never [have] enough options and usually you get a test of who can play with whom, how different pairs look."
Oduya has had a particularly rough stretch lately. In his previous four games, he was a whopping minus-8, with no points, one hit and three blocked shots.
"Everybody has stretches where things are going right, then some stretches where you're on for some goals against that maybe you weren't on for before," Quenneville said. "And everybody has those stretches over the course of the season. We're looking for consistency."
Quenneville said the Hawks' position in the standings gives him a little flexibility in terms of experimenting over the final four weeks of the season.
"You're trying things, hoping that it works," he said. "We've got some more options as we go forward."