Look for a different look from the Blackhawks in Game 5 tonight against the Flyers.
Coach Joel Quenneville provided previews in Chicago’s losses at Philadelphia when he shook up the lines, and while he wouldn’t divulge any specifics after Sunday’s morning skate, he suggested his team's threesomes will be a little different when it is at home.
"We'll look at going into the game, maybe tweaking them a little bit, we’ll look at doing what we think is best,” Quenneville said. “We've always gone along here maybe making some adjustments based on how we're playing or what we like and what we don't like, but I think we have a lot of options as far as moving guys in and out and around in our lineup.”
Chicago needs to find ways to create more offense, and separating Patrick Kane from his regular top line colleagues Jonathan Toews and Dustin Byfuglien ito get them away from Chris Pronger s the most obvious option. The unit has only one goal in the first four games and is a collective minus-12, largely because they’ve been facing Flyers defenseman almost every time they’ve been on the ice.
“I don't necessarily think it's [me],” Pronger said. “If you go back and look, our forwards have done a great job. You look at the line that's scoring against them, it's the (Danny) Briere line. That's done a great job of making them play defense. Which, obviously, they don't 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.”
Quenneville did a little shifting in Game 3, but made the biggest changes in the third period of Game 4, moving Kane onto a line with Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg and having Andrew Ladd line up with Toews and Kane. Quenneville said he thought that generated more offense, although the Blackhawks late push was spurred by a 5-on-3 man advantage that resulted in their first power play goal of the series. It sparked a belated comeback attempt that was too little, too late.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he noticed what was going on.
“There was quite a few changes, I thought,” Laviolette said. “You know, they changed their lines. More than once. I thought their system and their approach to the game had changed. They are trying to play a more aggressive game.”
That said, the Flyers aren’t giving the Blackhawks any bulletin board material by suggesting Chicago is making moves out of desperation.
“I don’t think we have them on the run,” said Flyers captain Mike Richards. “Throughout a playoff series, you make adjustments depending on how things are going and what you see out there. This is just one of those things. They’re probably trying to create some chemistry and create a spark for their offense a little bit, but right now we have to worry about what we have to do in Game 5."