I still have it on my DVR, after they interviewed Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews after Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and even after they cut away to hear what Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask said after the shocking loss they cut the coverage and went to the podium where Joel Quenneville was speaking.
After Q answered questions if this was the craziest ending he had ever seen, the reporter asked him if this was the greatest team ever. Q’s response after chuckling and say it sounded pretty cool was that it was a special team made up of special players, but the real secret of the entire season was the ability to ROLL ALL 4 LINES all year long. That’s what the Hawks did they even called up players when Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa were injured to play higher in the lineup so that lines like Andrew Shaw-Bryan Bickell-Viktor Stalberg wouldn’t be broken up.
The Hawks rolled all four lines nightly with great success (President’s Trophy) and the key really was Quenneville’s approach of not breaking up lines and playing all four no matter what the matchup was during the game. Sure Jonathan Toews is going to have more Ice Time than your fourth line due to powerplays or penalty kills but there was not a huge discrepancy between players on a nightly basis.
Flash forward to 31 games into the Hawks defense of the Stanley Cup, and rolling four lines is almost laughable. The Hawks play 3 lines on a nightly basis with Patrick Kane doing a lot of double shifting. Understandable that injuries have played a part in some of the coaching moves, but early in the season there was no excuse to play Sheldon Brookbank at wing when everyone was healthy just to send a message to Jeremy Morin and on top of it only play Brookbank around 5 minutes a game.
This week is a prime example of how this coaching has back-fired. The Hawks never lost games consistently in the third period last year, but this week they lost two games in the third and couldn’t get a go ahead goal in a third game which led to a shootout loss. If you read Twitterland everyone including the Blackhawks beat writer said the team looked tired. The team looked tired yet some of the real young guys like Morin only played 7 minutes while Toews played nearly 24 (Of course I want Toews out there more than Morin but not at that big of spread)
Looking ahead most of the Blackhawks stars are heading to Sochi so it’s not like they are going to get a 3 week vacation from the NHL season. This leaves us to wonder if Joel Quenneville is costing the Hawks wins and possibly repeating Stanley Cup Championship by running the stars into the ground with extra unneccessary minutes?
It’s a long season and it’s even longer this year with the Olympic break. It’s not panic mode by any stretch of the imagination, but come May in a 7 game series will the Hawks gas tank say Empty at the wrong time?
What do you think about Q’s minute distribution?
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