Now that we’re a little separated from last night, I want to try and be as even-handed about Q’s decisions (in this series and in the past) as I can be. It won’t be easy, but if we all work together I think we can get through it.
While Q scratched Nick Leddy for Sheldon Brookbank last night, it didn’t end up working out as a straight swap. As you’ll see from last night’s Extra Skater, Brookbank hardly played with Leddy’s usual partner in Rozsival at all. Brookbank took most of his shifts with Duncan Keith, and like they were in the St. Louis series they were highly effective, at least in terms of possession. Brookbank and Keith were both over 70% in Corsi-percentage, a full 18% above the team-rate for the game. Brookbank didn’t see the highest level of competition either when on the ice, as he mostly saw Brodziak and Niederreiter but there wasn’t a specific matchup either coach was chasing.
Rozsival spent most of his night skating with Johnny Oduya, and they weren’t so lucky. While Rozsvial was above water in overall Corsi, he was below the team-rate. Meanwhile Oduya was completely buried. As far as forwards these two saw it was basically spread out all over the map, as Q couldn’t chase matchups and Yeo didn’t seem too interested when they were on the ice.
Brookbank and Rozsvial both saw 75% of their shifts start in the offensive zone, which is just about the rate that Rozsvial and Leddy had for the playoffs.
Leddy’s rates for the entire playoffs is a 58% Corsi-percentage with 77% of his shifts starting in the offensive zone. So I guess when you look at it, the Hawks got no more or no less from this change last night. Rozsival was on the ice for the first goal against, but it wasn’t really his fault. But hey, that was enough to get Leddy benched from Game 2, right?
I guess that the argument could be, and I don’t know that it is, the Hawks were more defensively solid in the first 40 minutes of last night. Which they were, as they muzzled the Wild for as long of a stretch as they have the entire series. I can’t really see where that’s specifically due to Leddy’s absence than a more conservative gameplan, but I won’t totally rule it out.
What it did rob the Hawks of was drive for the bottom of their roster. Which is needed. Hopefully Leddy is motivated to correct this in Game 4, because I doubt this continues. At least I hope not.
It’s yet another strange move in the playoffs for Q, which always seem to come in a Game 3. John Scott on the power play against Vancouver was a Game 3, and that move cost the Hawks the game when the Canucks scored on a power play provided by a dumbass Scott penalty. Game 3 was when he made Jonathan Toews a 4th line center against Boston, which let Patrice Bergeron off the hook for his most effective game in last year’s Final. That was a game also marred by Hossa’s injury and the insertion of Ben Smith who didn’t even take the warmup. I believe 2012’s Game 3 was also the one where he scratched Jamal Mayers after he’d played most every game that season, though that’s not on the level of the other two.
That’s not to say all of Q’s adjustments are stupid, because they’re not. Bickell to the top line last year and deciding just in time to attack Chara instead of avoid him. Havlat with Bolland and Ladd in his first year looked weird at first, and then became basically the Hawks best line in the playoffs. Putting Kris Versteeg there the next year. Bolland-Kruger-Frolik last year. Which is why his refusal to ice a 4th line this year is so strange, because look how gleefully he likes to use one when he has one.
In the end, I wonder if Q just didn’t think he had the bonus of a very winnable series in the 2nd round and thought if there was ever a time to try something goofy, it’s now. Maybe that’s not showing Minnesota enough respect, and maybe he’ll feel awfully dumb if they win on Friday and the Hawks find themselves in a series. I really don’t know.
But what can’t continue for too long is icing four forwards who you can’t play more than 10 minutes at even-strength. I know Shaw is hurt, and that doesn’t help. But with the way the Hawks play they have to have at least 10 forwards they can trust. If he trusts Bollig so much, then put him out there and show us what he sees. If not, then make it Regin and Morin who he trusted for the last two weeks of the season. WHATEVER. The Kings are rolling four lines, and they probably await. Assuming Q doesn’t bone this series.