Today, we’re going to talk about blenders. Don’t worry, we haven’t turned BlackhawkUp into Cooking With The Chicago Blackhawks. Though that might be entertaining.
No, the reason we’re going to talk about blenders is because of coach Joel Quenneville, and because of something he needs to avoid tonight unless dire circumstances rise. If you’ve been a ’Hawks fan for a while now, you may be familiar with the idea of Q “using the blender” when it comes to his forward line combinations. We usually see this in action when the ’Hawks fall behind in a game or look like they’d rather be sunbathing in Maui than playing hockey.
But we should be concerned the blender will be pulled from its cabinet tonight before the ’Hawks can show they have either of those issues. That’s because Q appears to be in overthinking mode after the Game 1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
Da Windy City
Two things occurred during yesterday’s practice to suggest this. First, Kyle Cumiskey skated with the top-six defensemen in place of David Rundblad, meaning there’s a decent chance Cumiskey — who hasn’t played in an NHL game since Feb. 27 — will get a shot tonight. It shouldn’t be a game-threatening move, since Cumiskey has limited playoff experience and won’t be on the ice a lot (maybe Kimmo Timonen will?). Plus, the bigger issue is the play of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson since they’ll each be on the ice in excess of 20 minutes in tonight’s Game 2. But it seems a little panicky to throw away a defenseman (Rundblad) who had no playoff experience heading into this series because he struggled early in his first postseason game. When you consider Cumiskey isn’t fleet of foot and will probably be a little rusty returning to NHL action, it almost looks like a “let’s see what happens” move.
The other takeaway from yesterday’s practice was merely a suggestion from Q. According to ESPN’s Scott Powers, the mustachioed coach is considering putting Patrick Kane on both powerplay units, which looked entirely abysmal in Game 1. While it probably isn’t a bad idea, it displays that Q may have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to trying something new tonight.
And so we come back to the forward combinations. At last glance, they were still the same during Monday’s practice as they were in Sunday’s game. Some may think that’s strange after a 4-1 loss, but Q should really try his hardest to keep these lines together during tonight’s game.
Here’s the thing: The ’Hawks destroyed the Ducks from a puck possession perspective — especially in the first 40 minutes — of Game 1, holding a 60-46 edge in Corsi events. Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen simply had a stellar outing. Things only tailed off in the third when the Anaheim started playing tighter in its own defensive zone and cut down on its offensive aggressiveness, limiting opportunities for the ’Hawks to attack.