Chicago Blackhawks vs. Boston Bruins: Issues Joel Quenneville Must Address
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The Chicago Blackhawks have to come up with a response to their 2-0 loss in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final Monday night. The Boston Bruins took a 2-1 series lead by controlling the action in several facets of the game. The 'Hawks didn't seem to have any answers.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville needs to make some adjustments pronto. As hard as it was to watch Boston blank Chicago, all the Bruins did Monday was win one game. Taking either of the games in Boston sends the series back to Chicago tied at two games apiece.
The Bruins strong Game 3 effort means there are issues to be addressed. Boston gained control of the contest via a pair of second period goals and stifled Chicago's offense all night.
Some fixes involve the players. Winning just 16-of-56 faceoffs was a recipe for disaster. For a team built around puck possession, Boston's dominance at the dot was just too much.
The middle of the ice is an area that the Blackhawks have failed to control as well. They are having difficulty clearing the front of Corey Crawford's crease and are practically non-existent in front of the Bruins' net.
Chicago offered up a lot of long-range shots that wound up smothered by Tuukka Rask. Second-chance opportunities have been in short supply all series. Monday was no exception.
Quenneville couldn't help that Marian Hossa was a late scratch. Based upon Scott Power's post for ESPNChicago.com, it seemed odd that replacement Ben Smith didn't skate in warm-ups when Quenneville and the 'Hawks were aware that Hossa might not be able to go.
Smith had an early giveaway that nearly resulted in a Bruins goal but otherwise played well—considering the circumstances. Quenneville may also have to plan around his absence again Wednesday.
The first thing Quenneville has to do for Game 4 is send out a top line with some bite. By "bite," I mean any line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on it.
Pick any second winger: Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell, Smith. Just get Toews and Kane together, and see if they can't spark some offense.
Quenneville sent Toews—who has been ice cold from a goal-scoring standpoint—out with Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger. That's not a line that draws much defensive attention from an opponent.
Something also needs to be done about the power play. Chicago had two chances when the outcome was still in question but was only able to generate one shot on goal. The second power play saw Boston get three clear breakaway attempts at the 'Hawks net.
I'm just not sure there is much Quenneville can do at this point. If the 'Hawks cannot get some feet moving with a man advantage by now, the coaches obviously don't possess the answer.
Answers are what Chicago needs as they begin to formulate a plan for Game 4. Quenneville needs to have his team ready to respond Wednesday night.
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