Quenneville shuffles lines in Hawks' win
Joel Quenneville is famous for mixing and matching line combinations, but he really outdid himself for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at the United Center.
Quenneville's blender produced the following for much of the Hawks' 2-1 win:
• A struggling Patrick Sharp (no goals in the last 13 games) went from the third line to the top with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
• Andrew Shaw, normally on the fourth line, centered the second with Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad.
• Brad Richards went from the second line to the third, skating with Antoine Vermette and Kris Versteeg.
Those moves did nothing to jump-start the Hawks' offense as they managed just 3 shots on goal in the first 25 minutes. But that fact actually didn't bother Quenneville, who said he made the moves to try and create more balance throughout the lineup.
"Even though we didn't have any production for the first part of the game, the 5-on-5 game wasn't really giving up anything and that's how I measure our performance," Quenneville said.
Sharp had a strong first two periods with a couple of breakaway chances. The first one hit the left post, and Toews scored about 15 seconds later to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead with 13:20 left in the second period.
Sharp registered an assist on that goal, his 10th of the postseason.
Kane said some of players knew of Quenneville's plans before the day before, but the team showed its 'normal' lines during morning skate and during pregame. A little gamesmanship, perhaps?
"We were expecting the other goalie in the net too," said a smiling Quenneville of Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop, who sat for rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy. "So I guess it's 50/50."
After sitting out five straight games, Kimmo Timonen returned to the lineup Wednesday. The 40-year-old defenseman, who replaced Kyle Cumiskey, struggled against Anaheim in the Western Conference finals but was clearly jacked about his opportunity while speaking to the media after Wednesday's morning skate.
"I'm really excited," Timonen said. "I'm obviously going to trust my experience and instincts; try to help the team as good as I can. But it feels great. I can't lie to you."
Timonen got a penalty in the first period, but just seconds after he returned to the ice he also drew a high-sticking penalty on Alex Killorn. He also nearly scored when his shot hit the crossbar with 13:45 left in the third period and the game tied at 1-1.
"He knows how to play in his own end," Quenneville said. "I like that predictability in his game. The crossbar in the end of the third, would have been a nice treat."
Versteeg back in:
Kris Versteeg re-entered the lineup in place of Bryan Bickell.
"Every time you're out, you want to be in," Versteeg said before the game. "And every time you're in you want to make a point and make a mark. So, I'm excited."
Versteeg saw just 7:58 of ice time and registered 1 shot on goal.
Bickell, who missed Games 1 and 2 as he battled a case of vertigo, was on the otherside of the emotional spectrum, saying he was disappointed.
He said it:
"He doesn't look his age off the ice. You should see him with his shirt off."
-- Kris Versteeg on 36-year-old Marian Hossa, who logged almost 24 minutes in Game 3
He said it II:
"As long as he doesn't play too well. Just kidding. He's a great player. He's been a top (defenseman) for a long time in the league and especially for Finnish hockey. … It's fun to see him on the ice. That's where he belongs."
-- Tampa Bay's Valtteri Filppula on fellow Finn Kimmo Timonen
He said it III:
"The boys always have fun when the coach goes down."
-- Joel Quenneville, who took a spill at Wednesday's morning skate
According to Elias Sports Bureau, only three Final series featured games with tiebreaking goals in the final five minutes. They came this year, in 1964 (Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings) and 2006 (Hurricanes vs. Oilers). …
Coming into Wednesday night, the Lightning had won four straight road games. … Since 2009, the Blackhawks have overcome a 2-1 series deficit six of nine times. … Niklas Hjalmarsson has blocked 15 shots in four Final games.
• Follow John's reports on Twitter@johndietzdh.