Sunday, June 6, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
CHICAGO All indications are that significant line changes are due the Chicago Blackhawks when they hit the ice Sunday in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Many moves that were anticipated as early as Game 4 seem to be on the horizon. Most prominent is the dissolution of the top line. Dustin Byfuglien has been an utter non-factor in the Finals so far, and coach Joel Quenneville will have to find a place to stash him where he can regain his footing and confidence, as on Friday he simply looked lost. The lone Blackhawks rallying point in the game, at minutes ticked short on the third period, came when phenoms Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were split apart, so its a safe bet that Q will keep that mojo working and force Philly to find ways to defend the two talents separately.
On the defensive end, Brian Campbell has gotten better with every game played so far in the Finals, so expect him to continue to see increased minutes, perhaps at the expense of Niklas Hjalmarsson, who Quenneville acknowledge had a very rough start to Game 4.
On the Flyers side, why change a thing? Coach Peter Laviolette has pulled off the improbable feat of outfoxing Quenneville so far in the series, his minor tinkers trumping Chicagos consistent rolls.
Consistent until Game 5, that is. Quenneville has fought his own nature by bringing minimal change to the lineup in the first four games of the series. With the Finals reduced now to a best-of-three, the veteran mentor is faced with the coaching job of his life.
Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.