One of the major storylines out of Game 5 was how radically Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville went about rejigging his lineup, something he had for the most part stayed away from through the first four games.
This wasn't a matter of one player moved here for another, but rather wholesale changes, shifting all three members of his former top line onto three different lines -- and it worked perfectly.
With an assist to Dobber Hockey for the numbers (percentage of time line was used), here's a comparison of what Chicago's lines have looked like during the playoffs compared to what Quenneville went with Sunday night:
Even strength lines
Entire Playoffs 13% 33 BYFUGLIEN - 88 KANE - 19 TOEWS 12% 36 BOLLAND - 16 LADD - 32 VERSTEEG 8% 81 HOSSA - 82 KOPECKY - 10 SHARP 7% 22 BROUWER - 81 HOSSA - 10 SHARP 5% 37 BURISH - 55 EAGER - 11 MADDEN
Those were the basic combinations Quenneville had stuck with in Rounds 2 and 3 and for the first four games of the finals, with the only "major" change coming when Tomas Kopecky was inserted into the lineup after missing the Sharks series. He and Troy Brouwer had taken turns skating with Hossa and Sharp on the team's excellent second line.
Game 5 21% 36 BOLLAND - 33 BYFUGLIEN - 32 VERSTEEG 20% 81 HOSSA - 82 KOPECKY - 19 TOEWS 16% 88 KANE - 16 LADD - 10 SHARP 8% 22 BROUWER - 55 EAGER - 11 MADDEN 5% 81 HOSSA - 11 MADDEN - 19 TOEWS
After imploding his top line, what Quenneville did was keep a couple pairings together in Bolland with Versteeg on the new "second line" and Hossa with Slovakian buddy Kopecky on the first line. Kane-Sharp-Ladd, meanwhile, was a completely new combination that really didn't play together at all during the season.
It was hard to argue with the results, however, as both Byfuglien and Kane had their best games of the series, by far.
Chris Pronger, meanwhile, had his worst, finishing minus-5. Looking back at his ice time (about 28:30 of it), rather than matching against one line, he was out there against everyone, facing Bolland and his wingers as often as Toews and Sharp and theirs. In my mind, playing those varied opponents played a role in Pronger's off game as he had to shift away from focussing on the one line and looking to the bench to change in response to who Chicago had out there.
There was an element of surprise there, too, as Philadelphia didn't know what was coming in the line combination department and had to shift their gameplan during the game. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette will likely look to line match a bit better in Game 6 at home, giving his defensive players a chance to better adjust to what Quenneville's done.
"When you look at the game last night, we need to be better in all aspects of the game," Laviolette said Monday morning. "They had the opportunity for the last change. That comes back in our favor this game here. We can take a look at those things today, the changes that they made, and formulate a game plan on what we want to do against that."
Line juggling wasn't the only story of the game, however. Where Quenneville didn't make major alterations was on his power play, which had struggled in the first four games but went 2-for-4 in Game 5, doubling its output in the series:
Playoffs 27% 33 BYFUGLIEN - 88 KANE - 10 SHARP - 19 TOEWS 12% 81 HOSSA - 82 KOPECKY - 32 VERSTEEG 11% 36 BOLLAND - 88 KANE - 10 SHARP - 19 TOEWS
Game 5 45% 33 BYFUGLIEN - 88 KANE - 10 SHARP - 19 TOEWS 20% 22 BROUWER - 81 HOSSA - 32 VERSTEEG 15% 33 BYFUGLIEN - 81 HOSSA - 88 KANE - 10 SHARP
Expect Quenneville to stick with what worked in Game 5 on Wednesday, possibly en route to winning the Stanley Cup.Report Typo/Error