Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jun 13 2015, Page 68

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - June 13, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C11 Y OU knew this was going to be different when Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville opened Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final with a line of Andrew Shaw at centre for Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. According to puckalytics. com, those three had an aggregate of 2,907 minutes of five- on- five ice time during the regular season and playoffs before Wednesday night’s 2- 1 victory over the Lightning in Game 4 that evened the Stanley Cup final, but they had been together for just 63 of those minutes. The next three lines Quenneville sent out had similar numbers. For example: Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, who would stay together most of the game, had previously been together 117 of their approximately 3,126 aggregate minutes of full strength ice time this season. Both Sharp and Hossa has assists as Toews put in a rebound for the game’s first goal. The line on the ice when Saad scored the game’s winning goal, which included Kane and Brad Richards, had been together previously nine minutes, 39 seconds of a season total 2,949: 41 “( I’m) pretty comfortable with anyone,” Saad said. “ Q does his job well and finds the right combinations.” A review of the Game 4 play- by- play showed 10 distinct line combinations for the Hawks, which does not include lines assembled by necessity in the aftermath of penalty kills or power plays. Such an amount of juggling was notable even for Quenneville, long known as a coach quick to change personnel in an effort to generate offence or get better defensive matchups. This time, the coach said the idea grew out of having seen the line of Toews, Hossa and Saad provide a disproportionate share of the offence in the previous game. So Quenneville shuffled all four of the combinations he had used in the Game 3 loss. “ We have a great bunch of guys who are ready for whatever the look the coaches are trying to give our lineup,” Toews said. For nearly all the game’s penultimate minute, when the Hawks were trying to hold the one- goal lead, they had a line of Toews, Kane and Andrew Desjardins. Their total ice time together since Desjardins came in a March 2 trade? Not one second until Game 4. Quenneville finished the game with two other rarely seen combinations. They were formed both to have his most reliable defensive forwards on the ice and also to have two centers in the trio, in case one had been thrown out of a faceoff for an infraction. To Desjardins, the personnel shifts are not as confusing as they may seem because they do not affect the team’s approach. “ We know what our game plan is, systematically what is going on,” Desjardins said. “ When ( line composition changes), we’re still trying to do the same things out there.” Neither Lightning defenceman Anton Stralman nor forward Steven Stamkos thought the frequent revamping of Hawks lines was difficult for the Lightning to deal with. “ I don’t think matchups has been a big issue for our team all playoffs,” Stamkos said. “ On the road, there’s not much you can do when they have last change.” Yet Quenneville had done a masterful job of getting the matchups he wanted in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Ducks in Anaheim when his line combinations were relatively static from start to finish. Who knows what he might try in Saturday night’s Game 5 at Tampa? After all wasn’t that defenceman Kimmo Timonen positioned just outside the Lightning crease at one point in Game 4? The risk in constantly moving people around, both to different lines and different positions on a line, is having someone get confused and having the team wind up with a penalty for too many men on the ice. Richards, a centre the rest of the year, found himself frequently on left wing much of Game 4. “ You have to keep your ears open because you could miss a shift or lose a shift pretty quickly,” Hawks wing Kris Versteeg said earlier this year when asked about dealing with such switches. “ There are times when you’re unsure, and then you’re pretty nervous.” Desjardins, a five- season NHL veteran centre, said such uncertainty never cropped up Wednesday. “ We know who’s left, who’s right wing,” Desjardins said. “ We know what’s kind of going on. “ At this point, we better know,” he added, punctuating the thought with a laugh. — Chicago Tribune By Philip Hersh The bottom line Lightning say Blackhawks’ revamped forward combos not an issue BRANDON, Fla. — Steven Stamkos came within a stick blade of making his Stanley Cup goal drought storyline go away. The Tampa Bay Lightning captain doesn’t have a goal in the final yet but came temptingly close in the final minutes of Game 4. All that prevented Stamkos from scoring was the stick of Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook. It was so close teammates Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn started to put their hands in the air. They don’t think it’ll be long until they get to celebrate a Stamkos goal. “ He’s been getting looks,” Killorn said Friday. “ As long as he’s been getting looks, that’s all you can control. It’s just a matter of time before he scores.” As the face of the franchise, Stamkos puts plenty of pressure on himself to produce. That’ll only increase with his streak of games without a goal now at six going into Game 5 of the final today. “ I expect more from myself,” Stamkos said Thursday. “ No one said this was going to be easy.” Part of the problem can be chalked up to bad luck. The league’s secondleading scorer during the regular season has gone through streaks and droughts in the playoffs and does look due for a goal or two. The end of Game 4 Wednesday night was the best example. Stamkos was denied by Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford on an A- plus chance from the doorstep, and his shot that Seabrook deflected would have hit a wide- open net. It’s too late in the season and there’s too much at stake for Stamkos to be patient and wait for his breaks to come. But the coaching staff is happy with his overall play. “ Yeah, he’s not scoring, but watch him work without the puck, watch him back- check, watch him finish checks,” associate coach Rick Bowness said. “ All those little things that everyone needs to do to win. Jonathan Toews has won Cups doing it that way.” Just like the Blackhawks, who have one goal combined from Toews and Patrick Kane, the Lightning believe they can win the Cup even if Stamkos doesn’t score. Seven different players have goals in the series. “ We don’t look to one guy to score,” said Killorn, who along with Cedric Paquette has scored twice. “ We don’t feel like we put pressure on him to score. There’s a bunch of guys that can do it.” Bowness said Stamkos putting the onus on himself is what makes him a great player and that “ his heart is in the right place.” The Markham, Ont., native wants to score but would rather be getting the cup from commissioner Gary Bettman next week. “ It’s going to fall on the guys that you expect. It should,” Stamkos said. “ Right now it’s about finding a way to win.” — The Canadian Press Stamkos getting A- plus chances, but no goals Lightning centre due to light lamp soon By Stephen Whyno NAM Y. HUH / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Tampa Bay Lightning centre Steven Stamkos is bound to bulge the twine. ‘ We know who’s left, who’s right wing. We know what’s kind of going on’ — Andrew Desjardins PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY BEN KAHLER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is juggling his line combinations at a dizzying pace. C11 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 2015 winnipegfreepress. com NHL PLAYOFF REPORT C_ 11_ Jun- 13- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C11 6/ 12/ 15 7: 54: 31 PM

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