There was no secret that, after an ugly Game 4 loss, the Chicago Blackhawks needed to make some changes. In fact, we called for such a thing before Game 5; Brandon asked if coach Joel Quenneville should relax his stubborn policy of keeping Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together while I wondered if the top lines’ struggles could be attributed to Chris Pronger’s ability to match up with them at will.
With his back against the wall, Quenneville did just that. While line combinations aren’t constant in hockey, here’s the general layout he went with in Game 5 (thanks to James Mirtle’s story for extra help compiling his lines).
Line “1”: Dave Bolland (1 goal, 1 assist), Dustin Byfuglien (2 goals, 2 assists) and Kris Versteeg (1 goal, 2 assists)
Line “2”: Jonathan Toews (1 assist), Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky
Line “3”: Patrick Kane (1 goal, 1 assist), Andrew Ladd (1 assist) and Patrick Sharp (1 goal, 1 assist)
Line “4”: John Madden, Troy Brouwer (1 assist) and Ben Eager
Obviously, when your team scores 6 goals plus an empty-netter in a victory, it’s difficult to argue that the results were anything short of amazing. I mean, just think about it this way: every single “line” scored at least one point, with two lines having every player with at least a point each. The Bolland-Byfuglien-Versteeg combo scored 2, 4 and 3 points respectively. That’s incredible, folks.
The line combos made it more difficult for Chris Pronger to “key” on any matchup, although I think that his horrible -5 rating came from the Flyers being discombobulated in general. One big thing to remember, though, is that Philadelphia will receive the final change in Game 6 because they’re playing that game at home. Could that be a big reason why this series might threaten to be a “homer” series for at least another game?
There’s one thing we can count on: Quenneville said he’ll at least begin Game 6 with those lines intact. He said so in today’s press conference.
“Status quo would probably be the best way to go, go into the next game,” Quenneville said.