Besides their death stares, Joel Quenneville and Alain Vigneault share at least one other thing in common: line juggling. Part of that for Chicago is due to injuries (Hossa, Bolland, Burish to a lesser extent), part is their depth and the rest could be just the organics of the game (which is followed by a typical reaction of "WTF line was that?").
What we do know is that Chicago was third best in the regular season with G/G at 3.20 (.7 behind Vancouver) and the post season it has dropped to 2.83 (10th best) in contrast with Vancouver's league-leading 4.17. Obviously that is how Quick and Rinne and their teams played against Vancouver and Chicago respectively, but you can buy some comfort in perhaps those trends continuing.
After the jump we'll take a look at the Hawks offense and pairing frequencies (the lines presented are probably already wrong) but if you have lived under a rock or don't have the time to read, allow me the spoiler alert: they be some talented motherfuckers...except Burish, he's just a prick.
|2009 - Bryan Bickell||16||3||1||4||4||5||0||0||1||0||20||15.0|
Bickell only showed up in 16 regular season games and notched three goals, one of which was against Vancouver. There isn't much in terms of scouting reports on Bickell other than that he's a big winger who can probably play pretty well along the boards. Paired with Toews and Kane means he's doing something right: decent defensive skills mixed with the ability to drag defenders away from the rest of his line due or plant himself in front of the net. In that respect, he's similar to Steve Bernier and, thanks to the Hawks depth, they can chuck a third/fourth liner like Bickell up front to change the composition of the line.
|2009 - Jonathan Toews||76||25||43||68||22||47||9||1||3||0||202||12.4|
It's a karma-laced kick in the crotch that Mitchell sits on the sideline with the exact same injury he delivered to Toews. Mitchell's missed every game since January; Toews missed six. At any rate, the Hawks captain is one of their best - if not the best - player at ES, PP and the P; a fantastic two way player who just turned 22 (fuck me). He had career marks in assists (43) and +/- (22) and added four points in four games (3G, 1A) against the Canucks during the regular season. Third highest Corsi & fourth highest qualcomp in the regular season (along with their leading faceoff man and takeaway leader) and currently their highest leading scorer in the post season...no need to continue, you get the point.
|2009 - Patrick Kane||82||30||58||88||16||20||9||0||6||0||261||11.5|
If you hated Kane last year, chances are you'll want to extract your eyes out with a chainsaw now (that or steal his offseason training manual and pass it along to AV). He set career highs across the board, cut his PIM's in half from the previous season and ended up with his first positive +/- in his short career. He lead Chicago in ESGs and was tied with Toews with the PPG lead while eating up almost 20 minutes a game on average (in fact he leads all forwards on the team in average TOI). Sits second to Hossa at the top of the Corsi and is tied for second in post season points, including the gut wrenching equalizer in the dying seconds of game five against Nashville (he also added that terrible goal in game six).
Good thing Edler has been playing his best hockey since, along with Toews, these two will give he and Salo a handful if that's the match-up.
|2009 - Marian Hossa||57||24||27||51||24||18||2||5||2||0||199||12.1|
This is Vancouver's first shot at continuing Hossa's string of sublime Cup failures. Hossa's 51 points are his worst in over a decade, but he did sit out nearly a third of the season and still ended up with 24 goals, 51 points and the team Corsi lead. Having seen Hossa skate (for a few different teams) has show his real weapons other than his shot is his puck possession game and his back checking. He's difficult to stop and doesn't necessarily to be on offense to pain in the ass (check above for how many shorties he had). He picked up a goal and an assist against Vancouver this year and is tied for second in points in the post season (7).
|2009 - Patrick Sharp||82||25||41||66||24||28||4||2||4||0||266||9.4|
Sharp led the Hawks in shots during the regular season which is interesting considering he's Hossa's pivot. His 41 assists (career best) helped propel him to a 66 point regular season (also career best), making him the fourth highest scorer; he added two assists against Vancouver too. Tied for second with seven points in the post season, Sharp is also an effective PK'er and, for some strange reason, leads the Hawks with 8 PIMs in the post season (word is Andrew Alberts saw that and called him a pussy).
|2009 - Tomas Kopecky||74||10||11||21||0||28||1||0||2||0||95||10.5|
Kopecky was picked up along with Hossa last off season (presumably because Slovaks travel in pairs) but had an up & down year despite marking career bests in goals and points (zero points and a -1 against the Canucks). He ended the regular season on an up note and had two markers in the first round; again, think Steve Bernier. I didn't see the goals but I'm curious if he's used maybe like Bickell on the first line: big body in front to pounce on rebounds-type duties.
|2009 - Andrew Ladd||82||17||21||38||2||67||0||0||1||0||148||11.5|
No longer biffles with Kes, Ladd is the same bucket of nails he was last season: physical in our zone, responsible in his. Ladd started off the season on the second line but eventually found his way back to the third; his 17 goals were a career record, but his assists took a hit from last season and his +/- took an even larger hit, which as a third liner makes sense. He took a fair amount of defensive zone starts and can be called upon to do more than be a checker (don't be shocked if he ends up out with Toews). Similar to Kopecky, he can run hot and cold but also ended the season on the uptick. He had one goal and a -1 with nine PIMs against Vancouver in the regular season and has one goal and a -3 in the post.
|2009 - Dave Bolland||39||6||10||16||5||28||1||0||0||0||52||11.5|
Bolland missed over half the season after the 23-year-old needed surgery to fix a herniated disk, so I'm ignoring his stats except to say he was pointless and a -2 against Vancouver this year. When he's healthy, Bolland is another (greedy little bitches over there) two-way guy who can be plugged and played into a lot of situations; the frequencies below show he made use of his limited TOI on special teams against Nashville. He added a goal and assist against the Preds, that one marker being a game winner.
|2009 - Kris Versteeg||79||20||24||44||8||35||4||3||4||0||184||10.9|
It still annoys me that Versteeg was acquired from Boston for literally nothing (also known as Brandon Bochenski). Versteeg has been known to run his mouth (see Calgary last year) and take idiotic penalties (see Detroit last year) but also plays harder than his size suggests and has the speed and backchecking smarts to be a threat at both ends as well as on special teams. His career marks were off and his pts/60 were low, but I'm guessing that speaks more to the Hawks depth than anything else (if he was on our side he'd be on the second line and Grabner would be eating popcorn). He had one goal and a +1 against the Canucks this season and has two assists and a -2 in the post.
|2009 - Troy Brouwer||78||22||18||40||9||66||7||1||7||0||116||19.0|
A 40 point player on the fourth line? Makes Hordichuk look like a pile of puke though, again, Chicago's depth makes this misleading. Check the frequencies below: Brouwer was a workhorse in the regular season in every situation. He plays a physical game and enjoyed a break through year by doubling his goal totals which included a team-leading 7 GWG. He had two goals (on four shots) and a +2 against Vancouver this year.
|2009 - John Madden||79||10||13||23||-2||12||0||0||0||0||127||7.9|
I've watched Madden play for years in NJ and fuck Hossa, this was the best pick-up Chicago had last summer (crickets chirping). Fine, ignore me but if you thought Handzus was a pain in the ass, get ready. Even at 30-whatever years old, Madden is a great shutdown center and PK'er who lead the defensive zone starts for the regular season. His 12 PIMs is pure Wellwood. He had one assist against Vancouver this year.
|2009 - Adam Burish||13||1||3||4||2||14||0||0||0||0||9||11.1|
Last year Burish was a spark in the playoffs, but after tearing his ACL in preseason, he missed six months and only appeared in 13 games. Energy forwards like Burish are of the high risk / high reward variety. Shouldn't expect much from a fourth liner in the second round, however his type of play can be contagious and could ignite some other guys if/when the lines get juggled. He also doesn't want to knock a few back with anyone on Vancouver which is just so incredibly heart breaking I can't find the words.
[Note: With Buff moving back up to the forward ranks, it's likely Burish ends up sitting and the other spare parts that may slot in as the series progresses include renown Nobel Laureates Ben Eager and Colin Fraser. ]
Offensive Pairing Frequencies
- EV Offense -> Brouwer/Kane/Toews = 8%, Eager/Fraser/Kopecky = 6%, Hossa/Ladd/Sharp = 6%
- PP Offense -> Brouwer/Byfuglien/Kane/Toews = 12%, Byfuglien/Kane/Sharp/Toews = 5%, Bolland/Byfuglien/Kane = 4%
- SH Offense -> Brouwer/Madden = 15%, Bolland/Madden = 11%, Hossa/Toews = 11%
- EV Offense -> Hossa/Kopecky/Sharp = 8.7% frequency, Bickell/Kane/Toews = 8.7%, Bolland/Ladd/Versteeg = 8.3%
- PP Offense -> Bolland/Kane/Sharp/Toews = 28%, Hossa/Kopecky/Versteeg = 24%, Bolland/Byfuglien/Kane/Sharp/Toews = 11%
- SH Offense -> Bolland/Madden = 42%, Hossa/Toews = 21%, Sharp/Versteeg = 12%