The Chicago Blackhawks suffered a frustrating loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday in Game 3 of their Western Conference finals series. As disappointing as the result was, the ’Hawks are far from dead in the series.
Still, there are pros and cons to discuss from a game that became interesting before the first whistle even sounded. Let’s take a look at five of those things:
May 21, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville during the third period in game three of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Joel Quenneville set up his team to fail. It’s unfair to say the ’Hawks coach is the reason his team lost, as much as it may feel like he is. But he certainly handicapped his team before the puck dropped with some … interesting lineup changes. Out went Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen, two parts of a great possession line for the ’Hawks through these playoffs (Vermette, Teuvo and Patrick Sharp were three of only five ’Hawks forwards above zero in Corsi-for percentage in Game 2, for example). In came Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom, who hadn’t played since the Nashville series.
Quenneville told the press after the game he made the moves to get fresh legs on the ice after Game 2’s three overtimes. However, Versteeg played just 13 and a half minutes, while Nordstrom barely cracked 7. Additionally, Vermette (21:14) and Teuvo (22:17) by far played the fewest minutes among Chicago forwards in Game 2. So nothing about the “fresh legs” excuse adds up.
Da Windy City
Basically, it seems like Q wanted a reason to put two of his favorite (for unknown reasons) role players back in the lineup while subbing out two players he’s never shown complete comfort with, and who have a combined five points in the playoffs. The result was the destruction of the ’Hawks two best possession lines in this series (the third and fourth), forcing all of the offensive pressure onto Chicago’s top two lines. And with the cancellation that has been going on between the ’Hawks’ top two lines and whichever Ducks Bruce Boudreau tosses out against them, killing off the offensive attack from the bottom six spelled doom.
It would be incredible (in a bad way) if Q rolled the same lineup in Game 4. Versteeg again contributed nothing but turnovers, and Nordstrom was on the ice and out of position for a goal against. Neither of them brings offensive upside. It’s not as though Vermette and Teuvo lead the playoffs in points, but they’re more comfortable on the ice, are better decision makers and offer more offensive and defensive upside at this point.