Friday night in Vancouver, the Chicago Blackhawks went into their second straight shootout of the season. This one went four rounds with none of the Blackhawks scoring, and the Canucks skated away with a victory.
Head Coach Joel Quenneville sent in two of the obvious choices that we all want in a shootout situation – Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Patrick Sharp took the third round, and that choice by Quenneville was questionable since Sharp was having a tough time handling the puck all night. Most people watching the game would have ditched Sharp at that point and put in someone who was having a much better night, like Marian Hossa who was all over the Canucks and the puck in the third period. Or Brandon Saad whose hard work through the whole game put many of the Blackhawks’ NHL-experienced players to shame. But Sharpie got the nod and had his shot gloved by Roberto Luongo.
Then came the fourth round. It makes all the sense in the world to go with Hossa or Saad or another forward whose job is to score goals. But Quenneville called on young defenseman Nick Leddy.
Toews, yes. Kane, of course. Sharp, eh. Leddy, wait what?
Leddy’s shot was also gloved by Luongo, and Blackhawks fans everywhere felt like Quenneville didn’t give the shootout a real try. After the game, Quenneville said he’s been thinking about shootouts and that they need to try new things. Apparently that means going against smart choices based on performance in the game. This is a decision that looks like it was made prior to landing in Vancouver.
Quenneville liked what he saw with Leddy in practice shootouts and in Rockford, calling him “deceiving”. He thought he deserved a chance. But in the 4th round? Before calling on the hot players of the night? The shootout does need some help and maybe Leddy does deserve a chance, but not before more logical choices that had earned their chance that night in that game.
What do you think about Quenneville’s shootout decisions?