2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

When the puck dropped on Game 3 in Boston last night, Chicago’s captain and the NHL’s 2013 Selke Award winner Jonathan Toews took the draw for the road Blackhawks. He’s the same dude who tallied 48 points in 47 regular season games, including 23 goals. The same guy who earned Hart Trophy votes. The same guy who won nearly 60% of his regular season draws, second best in the league. The same guy who…is centering Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik? Are you f*****g kidding me?

Last night I tweeted about it without putting much thought into it, and missed the point entirely. I added some brackey-y stuff for clarity, but the tweet read: ”(Is) Toews being demoted, (is Quenneville) trying get B’s to drop matchup on his line, or (are they just) outta options sans Hossa? Kruger-Frolik? Yikes.”

Anyway, it’s pretty clear in hindsight that the idea was to trade Toews’ minutes as a wash versus Chara’s (anything gained is a bonus), and leave the rest of the talent to try to beat the Bruins.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. This is a terrible strategy, if in fact it was his strategy as many people have speculated. It’s the coaching equivalent of being a perimeter player.

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game ThreeCreating goals is harder than limiting them, and the Bruins still have defensive juggernauts throughout their lineup that are capable of shutting down other players, like the previous Selke winner and runner-up this year who just so happens to be the guy Toews was behind in faceoff winning percentage in the regular season, Patrice Bergeron. His line as a whole can clamp down on another talented group.

The Bruins get reliable defensive play from everyone in their lineup, including those you wouldn’t suspect like Tyler Seguin (his defensive effort is actually quite impressive) and even Jaromir Jagr at this point. Not to mention guys like Kelly, Ference, Peverly, Boychuk, Paille and on and on.

The Chicago Blackhawks scored more goals than any team in the Western Conference this season, and were behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins in the league. They had the best goal differential of all 30 teams. They succeeded by being able to make skilled plays that other teams couldn’t. Their passing was impeccable, dizzying at times, yet here Joel Quenneville is neutering the team’s top player by giving him third and fourth liners to deal with and the unspoken assignment of being asked to do anything exceptional.

With Toews lack of success in the post-season so far – one goal and eight assists for nine points in 20 games – it’s like Quenneville gave up on him last night, and put the game in the hands of Patricks Kane and Sharp.

The Blackhawks undoubtedly missed surprise scratch Marian Hossa, who’s one of the league’s best players as far as I’m concerned. But in the absence of some of your elite talent, especially on the road, that’s the game you give the ball to your team’s leader and say “You’re running with this. We’re winning or losing on your shoulders tonight. This your chance to elevate your game and name, show us whatcha got.”

Later in the game Toews got a few shifts with Patrick Kane, but it was too little too late. Quenneville missed the chance to put his best players in a position to succeed, and the Blackhawks talent was wasted as a result.

I think Joel Quenneville is a good coach, so I don’t think we’ll see the Kruger-Toews-Frolik line in Game 4. But he burned a game by over-thinking things in Game 3.

Comments (20)

  1. Poor usage aside, it really seems like Toews is a good candidate for the post season “how did he play through that?!” injury. I heard he hurt his leg against St Louis in April, and I’ve heard it posited that he has an upper body injury which would explain his lack of production and his significantly lower FO%.

    Regardless, he doesn’t look the same, and playing with two 4th liners ain’t going to help.

    • Yeah, and it looked like Lucic’s leaping hit mangled his wrist or something somehow too.

      • How didn’t Lucic get called for that? Toews has taken a beating through the entire playoffs, rarely drawing penalties. Is that scrub Daugavins (sp?) going to sit a game for the headshot on Shaw? The reffing had nothing to do with the Hawks loss last night or many/any other nights, but has been inconsistent throughout the playoffs. The ice conditions may have neutralized some of the Hawks’ ability to play the puck possession/finesse game that is their strength.

        • Head fake from Shaw wasn’t worthy of a penalty. Every hit to Shaw’s upper body results in WWF style animation. He should have a nurse at the boards to kiss his boo-boos.

      • I was gonna tweet you about that hit. Had a feeling you’d be one of the few who saw him leave his feet. Even after they show the replay 5 times over on HNIC, their so called “experts” still didn’t pick up.

        • Love when the ‘experts’ praise obvious penalties as good play. The NBCSN guys did the same for a trip at the end of the first (Oduya I believe) after he missed the puck and took out the driving Bruins legs

    • To me it felt more like a message being sent to his regularish linemates that have been underachieving. Kruger and Frolik have been Chicago’s most consistent forwards in the post in terms of what’s expected of them on a game to game basis. Just please don’t mistake this as making excuses for Quennville because nothing would make this lifelong Blackhawks fan happier than seeing him and his cronies replaced.

      The power play has been broken more often than not for the past 4 seasons so the guy goes out and hires Jamie Kompon. Brandon Bollig got a regular shift in a Stanley Cup Final game. Brandon Bollig fucking DRESSED for a Stanley Cup Final game. If Kompon wasn’t a sign that Q has been going all brando in Apocalypse Cow since winning in 2010, then this playoff will tear the walls down.

  2. Nice to see someone praising Seguin’s defensive game/effort… it has certainly come a LONG way since he broke into the league. Granted, he couldn’t play under Julien if it hadn’t.

    Also telling to watch the two Selke candidates face off and see the results… Toews with 48.2% at the dot (41-44) while Bergeron is 68.8% (66-30). Toews 0-0-0, even, 12 shots and 2 blocked shots compared to 2-0-2, even, 13 shots and 6 blocked shots.

  3. When you consider this amongst other things, it’s not surprising that last night’s game was the closest we’ve had to a boring game in these playoffs.

    Considering the two teams, that’s pretty surprising.

  4. How is it possible that the only coach in these playoffs to make the necessary usage adjustments to get their star player more ice time and more opportunities against the Bruins was Randy Carlyle?

    Tortorella, Bylsma, and Quenneville all seem to be playing right into Boston’s hands. Carlyle put out an abominable lineup in Game 1, but he had Julien on the run in Game 2 and the rest of the series he was able to get Kessel plenty of opportunties to get away from the Chara matchup.

    And I don’t even think Carlyle is that great of a coach, but this is insanity.

  5. Eh I dunno, Hossa being out changed the range of options. At that point there are basically three All-Star-caliber forwards to distribute, 88/10/19. Put them together and you’re running three lines going out there without any of them. Splitting them up 2 and 1 seems more sensible and it doesn’t seem obvious why one of the three being the 1 is a lot worse than either of the others.

  6. The 4th line has had some flashes of dominant possession the entire season, so perhaps Q was hoping with Toews centering those two they would be effective in gathering/keeping the puck and also be a legitimate scoring threat. Unfortunately Toews is more of a passer/playmaker than a shooter, and Kruger/Frolik won’t give him a lot of passing options.

  7. It doesn’t really matter if you want to distribute your talent evenly across your lines if your talent can’t do anything on their own. And Handzus-Kane? That’s a terrible idea. I’d say Kane’s use in the playoffs has been rather poor when you consider that he was their top offensive player in the regular season. I mean, if you want your goal scorers to score, you got to put them where they can generate chances(see the LA games) and you call talk all you want about how different Boston is and how you have to spread everything out but the point is: it wasn’t that Hossa was out(though that’s obviously extremely bad), it’s that Q lost his mind somewhere along the way. For Christ’s sake at least try putting Kane and Toews together for more than two minutes and see what they do.

  8. If the B’s win, I know Rask would likely take the Conn Smythe (at this point), but man, Bergeron has got to be in that conversation or a close second, anyone agree?

    As the opposite of a Bruins fan, it was really painful to write that. I will now gargle with kerosene.

    • Krejci would be second for the Bruins primarily based on his point totals. Bergeron would be fighting off Horton for the third spot.

  9. I love the comment about the praise by the so called experts on HNIC on the Lucic hit not saying anything about the clear jumping action .These guys have Cherry rubbing off on them and it sickens me .I guess if your not going to play by the rules it should go both ways .Chicago should get one of there big boys take a running jump at one of Bostons top guys (there leading scorer)or someone that deserves it (Marchand)

    • Does Chicago have any big boys? I mean, Bollig sat last game and Mayers is a waste of a roster spot.

      And does anyone actually need to jump into Marchand?
      Also, have you been paying zero attention to these playoffs to not have a clue who the leading scorer is?

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