The Chicago Blackhawks top line of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Dustin Byfuglien have been simply brilliant in the playoffs this year. The least talented of the bunch, even Byfuglien (are there any Flyers fans out there that can stand this guy?) had managed eight goals entering the Stanley Cup Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
But, for whatever reason (and everyone except Chris Pronger will tell you it’s Chris Pronger), that line has struggled against Philly’s big, physical defense. So, something has to change and the ‘Hawks might stick with the little shakeup they had in the third period of Game 4, where they broke up their top lines to seemingly try to avoid Pronger.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville had some success doing that, saying that it was ‚Äúa little bit more effective.‚Äù
Down 4-1, the Blackhawks got some things going in a hurry and put two quick ones home to pull within one goal at 4-3. I can tell you that it got my attention as I was reminded of how quickly this team can score.
Still, despite the loss and the tied series the Blackhawks are encouraged by the changes and momentum of that third period.
‚ÄúWe sent a lot of pucks on net, we won a lot more battles,‚Äù former Flyers forward Patrick Sharp said. ‚ÄúThat sense of urgency has been building throughout the season and especially in the playoffs. Right now it never has been higher. We have to start that first shift (Sunday) like we finished the third period.‚Äù
Pronger was asked if he took any satisfaction in knowing that they were shuffling their lines because of him.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt necessarily think it‚Äôs that. If you go back and look, our forwards have done a great job,‚Äù he said, deflecting any credit. ‚ÄúYou look at the line that‚Äôs scoring against them, it‚Äôs the (Danny) Briere line. They‚Äôve done a great job of making them play defense. Which, obviously, they don‚Äôt want to do. They want to play offense. They want to have the puck. They want to control the pace of the game, control the game that way.‚Äù
As for Kane, the young superstar likes to think back to his wonderful performance in this year‚Äôs Olympics as inspiration to get him and the rest of the team going.
‚ÄúI think that‚Äôs something you can look back on,‚Äù Kane said. ‚ÄúThat was another high level where maybe at the time you are trying to do too much and trying to prove too much. But I think as time went on, I think you get a little more comfortable with the situation, the big stage.‚Äù
I’m a bit concerned if the Blackhawks do shuffle those lines around. Yes, you can argue that they’d be making changes to a formula that has worked for them, but they haven’t seen anything like the Flyers’ style of play. It should be expected that they were going to have to make adjustments. And they are extremely talented up top, so it’s not like they are moving some bums up to the first line.
We’ll see what happens when the puck drops this evening.
tonight is the game the flyers steal in chicago. i have a feeling carter will be the difference maker