Jun 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) attempts a shot against Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) in the third period game five of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Third and fourth lines stepping up offensively. While both teams’ top two lines have really grinded away at each other in the games where Jon Cooper gets last change, it has allowed Joel Quenneville to deploy his third and fourth lines against much lesser Tampa competition. And while they combined for just one goal (it was enough), they had many, many more chances to score. Andrew Shaw (plus-6), Teuvo (plus-3), Kris Versteeg (plus-2), Vermette (plus-2) and Marcus Kruger (plus-1) were all in the black in Corsi differential over all situations Saturday.
Versteeg seemed to have quite a bit of pep in his step and used that to record four shots and create the rebound that gave Vermette a straight shot at what would serve as the game-winning marker. Vermette was all around the net along with Versteeg and Teuvo, and he also won eight faceoffs while losing three. Teuvo was pretty close to having multiple goals, considering he had two or three clean breakaways.
The fourth line of Shaw, Kruger and Andrew Desjardins was bullish around Bishop all night. One particularly memorable sequence came in the third period, when Shaw was trying to jam home a puck alongside the net, and Kruger and Desjardins came bowling into the crease to do whatever they could to try and send the puck home. While it didn’t result in a goal that time, it takes a little more out of all the Tampa players involved, and it keeps the puck away from Crow. Additionally, these three were starting nearly all their shifts in the defensive zone (Shaw with 10 defensive zone starts, Kruger and Desjardins with 11), so the fact they were noticeable on offense is even more impressive.
With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane struggling to find the net in this series, it’s important the ’Hawks received contributions from the bottom six, especially on the road. Chicago’s bottom six has benefited from playing weaker competition on the road; when the series shifts back to Chicago on Monday, it’ll be time for the top six to take control, especially with Q able to dictate matchups.
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