Joel Quenneville shakes up struggling defensive pairings
BY Mark Potash Staff Reporter May 28, 2014 9:41PM
Updated: June 30, 2014 12:53PM
Coach Joel Quenneville continued to mix and match his forward lines in Game 5 of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings. But with the Blackhawks’ playoff lives on the line Wednesday night, Quenneville also shook up his struggling defensive pairings.
Quenneville broke up the No. 1 pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — putting Keith with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Seabrook with Nick Leddy. Johnny Oduya, who had been with Hjalmarsson, played with Michal Rozsival.
The big change up front was with the No. 2 line, where Patrick Kane skated with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw.
“I thought Saad and Shaw were effective [in Game 4] — Kane can add to the mix,” Quenneville said. “They had a good couple of periods there, generated some zone time and chances and scored a nice goal.”
It was the fifth line Saad has played on in the five games of the series. He skated with Shaw and Peter Regin in Game 4.
“I think we can be a big threat,” said Saad, who scored the Hawks’ first goal in their 5-2 loss in Game 4. “He put us together for a reason — to bring that energy along with some skill. If we play our game and come out fast, we should do a good job.”
Water under the bridge?
The Hawks downplayed a TMZ report that a Kings fan filed a battery claim against goalie Corey Crawford after Crawford allegedly squirted water from a water bottle on the fan late in Game 4.
Clark Wong, 27, who had been ejected from the arena for heckling Crawford, claimed the water bottle was filled with backwash and caused him eye irritation.
CBS reported that the Los Angeles Police Department was not investigating the matter.
Crawford was not available for comment after the morning skate at the United Center.
“I just heard about it on the way [to the news conference]. I’m not worried about it right now,” Quenneville said after the morning skate. “I’m worried about the game, as Corey will [be],”
Puck-possession teams such as the Hawks thrive on winning faceoffs. But they have gotten progressively worse in that area during the playoffs.
The Hawks’ faceoff win percentage has dropped from 53.3 percent against the St. Louis Blues to 48.8 percent against the Minnesota Wild to 44.3 percent through four games against L. A.
Jonathan Toews’ deterioration in the faceoff circle is even more pronounced. Toews, who was ninth in the NHL in faceoff percentage in the regular season (57.2 percent), has dropped from 61.9 percent against the Blues to 53.8 percent against the Wild to 45.5 percent through Game 4 against the Kings.