The decision makers of the Chicago Blackhawks seem uninterested in using the game plan that got them to the Finals. Most likely fueled by the mind of coach Q that is always looking to unnecessarily shake things up, Viktor Stalberg has been taken out of the lineup again. "There's a likelihood or probability it could happen," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said afterward at media day. "They played well together, that (fourth) line, all year long. It could happen."
Apparently Q is unaware of how well the 3rd line has been playing, all year, and in this playoffs. Scoring is not always the definitive factor. He is also apparently ignorant to how well the 4th line has been playing the way it was. There are numerous issues with this move. Let's break this down quickly:
- There is no way that Q will be able to feel comfortable playing Bollig (and I like Bollig more than most) much more than 3 minutes. He is cold, has very little playoff experience, and is not the greatest skater in the world. This has multiple consequences, and namely the result of fewer minutes from Frolik who has been one of the best players on the ice for the Hawks. The other issue is options during the game.
- In a series with some very intense top 2 lines, I saw the 3rd and 4th as being the difference for the Hawks. Our depth is what got us here, and Q is hurting that depth with this move.
- The Hawks need to stick to their game. The reason the Pens got shut down was because they let Boston take them away from their game. That, and the Pens defense is shit. The Hawks D are far from that and will be much better at getting their forwards the puck, which the Pens did not do. An integral part in the 3rd line's breakout and transition game is Stalberg. He opens up the ice, and the Hawks will be in huge need of that tonight.
- Bollig will not be credited with many more hits than Stalberg would have, who has also shown a lot of ability to create shots on net, which Bollig just can't do. If Stalberg was playing to his ability, we should expect 3-6 shots on net plus more than a few hits.
- All of the lines are now completely mixed up which says to me that the Bruins have already succeeded in taking the Hawks off of their game, before the series even began. And still, Frolik was not moved up even though his play suggests a heck of a lot more ice. Bolland, who has struggled is getting moved up. Shaw, who has been better at the dot than Bolland now finds himself in a completely different role which is bad timing if you ask me (even though I have always argued that Shaw is a winger).
The fact that Stalberg has been far from meeting expectations is clear. But, a lot of that is because of his skill and size. He hasn't been getting the minutes that he has been used to, and it is obvious that his earlier benching has had a bad effect on his motivation. That is on Stalberg, but also Q. This is a bad judgement call by Q, who has neutralized a great player for the Hawks based on his own issues as a coach IMO. Plus, if we were making these moves based on who was playing the best, Frolik would have been moved up a long time ago.
While this move might not be the end of the world, it has created a lot of opportunity for the Bruins to do what they did so well against the Pens. The Hawks have no need for an enforcer (especially one who is on the ice for 3 minutes), because they shouldn't be humoring the Bruins game plan. Yeah, we need a guy who can fight because the Hawks have had zero fights, and the Bruins have only had 1, and they are both in the Finals. Play your game Hawks, play your game and be better than the Bruins.
Filed under: View from the Bench