The Blackhawks came into this playoff series with several roster decisions to make. The Blackhawks coaching staff decided to stick with Brandon Bollig and Kris Versteeg over the red hot Jeremy Morin. The original lines for the playoffs were Bollig on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith, while Versteeg would play with on the second line with Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus.
Those lines did not remain intact for very long while the emergence of Smith. Since Game 1 and Game 2 Bollig and Versteeg has seen their ice time diminish:
Game 1: Bollig 15:30, Versteeg 29:01
Game2: Bollig 3:33, Versteeg 12:42
Game 3 Bollig 5:05, Versteeg 11:14
Game 4: Bollig 6:32, Versteeg 12:02
Game 5: Bollig 4:18, Versteeg 8:49
For the series Bollig has average 7.00 minutes of ice time with no goals or assists for a -2 plus/minus rating. Versteeg is averaging 15:46 of ice time and has no goals and two assists for a 0 plus/minus rating.
There are many factors that are playing into their lack of ice time. One reason is their effectiveness. Neither player has been very effective in this series. Bollig adds nothing to the ice, when he does hit someone it is usually after the whistle and he draws a stupid penalty. Meanwhile Versteeg never looks to shoot. He instead passes when he has an open look at the net. Versteeg did record two assists but those were in Game 1 and Game 2. He has done nothing since then. Neither player can be counted on to clear the Blackhawks zone or back check effectively.
Bollig now has been relegated to the bench and barely playing, while Versteeg has been placed on the fourth line with Handzus and Kruger.
Instead of dressing both Bollig and Versteeg for Game 6, the Blackhawks should dress Jeremy Morin and Sheldon Brookbank. Morin deserves a chance to continue his regular season success in the playoffs. He would bring more value than both Bollig and Versteeg. Brookbank should dress over both of them because of how effective he has played in place of Brent Seabrook. Brookbank did not let the Blackhawks defense suffer and replaced the physical element that Seabrook brought to the back end. Brookbank is also versatile enough that he can play forward and defense in the same game.
To answer my own question, why are the Blackhawks dressing Bollig and Versteeg? The answer is I don’t know.
The Blackhawks will take on the Blues at 2:00pm central time on Sunday April 27th at the United Center. The game can be seen on NBC.
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