Thinkin’ Out Loud – Game 4 – Ducks vs Hawks Preview, Pregame Thread, Neurologist Appointment

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Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio:  NBC, CBC, TVA, WGN-AM 720
All The Answers: Anaheim Calling, Battle Of California

In Joel Quenneville’s seven year tenure as the Hawks’ coach, there has not been a single postseason wherein his squad has not trailed in a series at some point, including twice in each respective year that ended in a parade. So tonight’s Game 4 at home against the Ducks is not new territory for his team. But Game 3 certainly rocketed up the charts as one of his all-time coaching boners in what is already a greatest hits collection. The Ducks took advantage, and now tonight results in a crucial, near must-win for the home team.

Credit Bruce Boudreau and the Ducks for playing the game that was put in front of them on Thursday night. With the forward attack blunted due to simply odd lineup decisions on the bench across from them, they were able to keep the top Hawk threats mostly to the outside, save for one seeing eye shot from Patrick Kane that got past Frederik Andersen, where really only Kane and a couple others in the league could have potted such a backhander from the slot. But other than that, Andersen remains the revelation for Anaheim, to this point out-Mike Smithing even Mike Smith from 2012, with a simply unholy .957 save percentage in three games against the Hawks, stopping 112 of 117 shots so far. Andersen has been quicker laterally than advertised, and in particular his blocker side has been notably solid, deflecting away any shots that normally would have been destined for the 7-hole under his armpit. But he’s been able to slide over and put himself in a position to react in such a casually excellent manner.

While the CHUDs were on the ice for both Anaheim goals, with Getzlaf assisting on both, they have been largely quiet themselves, with only Corey Perry remaining above water at an on ice shot differential of a mere +1 in Game 3. But Perry’s tentacles are wide spanning, and he was in the thick of things on both goals, going to the front of the net and preventing Corey Crawford from seeing either the slack-jawed Patrick Maroon’s deflection or Simon Depres’ shot. Ryan Kesler also saw far more time against Jonathan Toews than anticipated, getting nearly 4 and a half minutes at evens against him. The Ducks have been exploiting the fact that the Hawks mandate as a team has never really been to engage with any forwards camping out in the crease, with the thought being that they can keep things to the outside or go the other way before the puck gets there. But with players of this size and skill, they’ll need to do a better job at making their presence in the slot moot.

On the blueline, Clayton Stoner and Sami Vatanen got predictably mauled at even strength, with 19 attempts against to only 8 for in 12+ minutes together, the greatest portion of which was seen against the Toews line.  Only the pairing of Depres and Fowler held their own while seeing a fairly even balance of Hawk forwards. But with the odd lineup decisions on the other side, the Ducks were able to escape unscathed for the most part.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, the lineup appears to be heading back to its rightful state with Teuvo and Vermette coming back in. Credit Quenneville at least for not doubling down on whatever serendipity struck him before Game 3, and also for apparently finally unburdening himself of caring about Kris Versteeg’s feelings. But coming back this quick with what had been working is a tacit admission of what a colossal boner Thursday was. Those lineup choices disrupted the two bottom six lines that were playing well together, and also forced Quenneville to lean too heavily on his top six to get anything out of them. Additionally, as a result of Marcus Kruger taking ZERO faceoffs, Jonathan Toews started only ONE shift in the offensive zone. Kruger stated today that he isn’t hurt, and while that might be late-playoff misinformation, if taken at face value, that’s an absolutely inexplicable coaching decision on Quenneville’s part.

After much hemming and hawing about the distribution of the Hawk defensemen’s ice time, they were actually far from the problem on Thursday, with every non-Kimmo blueliner in the black in possession. The top four mixed and matched all evening with Cumiskey and Kimmo getting cherry picked shifts if only to spell those above them in the depth chart, and for the most part it worked to the Hawks’ advantage. In particular, Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook spent a little over seven minutes together at evens, and had only one attempt against to 14 for.

While Corey Crawford was slow in getting post to post for Depres’ decider late in the second, he certainly gave his team more than a fair chance to win. He’ll need to remain strong in the face of traffic in front of him for the reasons stated above; his defensemen are not going to physically pound the Duck forwards, and rebounds will need to be kept to a minimum, or at least strategically kicked out past danger.

But after all of this, nothing has changed with the directives that the Hawks needed to employ from Game 3 to get a victory, they just now have the correct personnel and presumably a coach that now realizes how badly off the mark his hunches were about changing things for change’s own sake. Get Richards and Kane out against Stoner. Let Kruger handle the defensive zone responsibilities when Getzlaf gets an offensive zone start. Spot Timonen and Cumiskey when possible as far away for their own net as can be managed. And most of all, remove your head from your ass and stop getting outcoached by a barbecue sauce wearing oaf. Let’s go Hawks.

If you’re heading to the game tonight, make sure to pick up a copy for our gameday program outside the UC. We’re outside Gates 2 and 3 on Madison, as well as on the south side of the UC on Wood and Monroe, as well as Damen and Monroe. If you’re not going, you can get the digital version right here. 

  • ZigZags82

    Let the Hawks dictate play and adjust to be the Hawks we all know and love. Each time a Hawks team has been down 2-1 in the WCF and won Game 4, they have won the series.

    Let’s go Hawks.

  • DJ

    Now address the power play.

    • Preacher

      We used a set play a few games (or weeks?) before the end of the regular season where Hossa scored. Why have we never tried it again? I realize the situation and positioning has to be there, but it works against four men stacked on the blue line which is pretty much what the Ducks do every time. Or perhaps try some motion. Movement. SOMETHING to actually put the “advantage” into man advantage.

    • ZigZags82

      It’s been 7 years. Never going to truly address. Just get timely goals when we need them in adverse spots.

      • Jim

        In my business, when I can’t figure something out, I just hire somebody who has succeeded in whatever before, and they fix it. Shit a lot more complicated than a power play. 🙂

        • ZigZags82

          It’s the truth man lol. Whatever the case get the W and tie the series whatever way how.

  • Jim

    Thank you.

    And this should silence the “2 Cup” argument. Q f’d up and today he admitted it. Last WCF he pulled a “Handzus” and he wouldn’t back down until the Hawks were down 3-1. Thankfully, he backed down after only giving away one game. I’m not saying the Hawks would have necessarily won Game 2 but it was a slim margin of victory for the Ducks, and we were only rolling 2 lines. 2 lines, WTF?

    • Jane Doe

      And Q has proven he is not a rocket surgeonist.

    • SAMCRO Outlaw

      I’ve been lucky enough to sit in on a couple of DaVinci robot surgeries, but the thought of observing a rocket surgery has my Sherwood @ full morning!

    • DJ

      The “2 Cups” argument doesn’t (or shouldn’t mean) that Q is mistake-proof. But it does mean that he simply doesn’t throw a bucket of pucks out for practice and go back for a cup of coffee. It’s something in the middle.

      As you correctly noted, he tried something (maybe for long-term reasons), saw it wouldn’t work, and declined a chance to double down. So now, presumably, we’re going to be able to roll four lines, without regard as to what the matchups are (the fourth line played their first to a standstill; if they want to throw their fourth against our first, be my guest). That’s to our advantage over the course of a series. Now we have to make sure our power play isn’t a momentum-killer.

      • Jim

        It’s been my observation in sports that superstars win and lose championships. The manager’s job is to just do the standard moves and not fuck it up. Let’s not talk about regular season records. Take any sport, SF Giants win last year in large part to a vurtuoso performance by Madison Bumgarner. This year, the Cavs are probably going to the finals because of Lebron James. The Heat are not going, because no Lebron. Pick any championship, any sport, any time, and you will see a superstar that had a great post season. Jordan, Reggie Jackson,

        So, Q has Toews and Kane. Those are the guys who have won him the Cups. Q had decent regular seasons with the Blues and the Aves. But regular seasons don’t mean much in hockey. And Q never won di-di until he had Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane.

        All Q has to do is assemble lines that make sense, and roll matchups. And then let the superstars either win it or not (and pray for a John Druce). And Q has done all he can to fuck up in the regular season by restricting the defensive depth, which is their glaring weakness now.

        I’m not saying Q is a bad coach, he certainly isn’t. But he is not the best coach. He is getting outfoxed by BOUDREAU! Look at Anaheims gameplan, they are collapsing around their goalie and pouncing on Hawk mistakes for their offense. We can’t game that? Also, we get last change and then we drop 2 lines? And Q’s powerplay is a travesty, and has been for years. We can’t hire a consultant to delegate and fix it? In 5 years? With Kane and Toews, Hossa, Saad and the rest?

        • ZigZags82

          Hawks will begin to game it tonight. No worries man.

        • DJ

          To be clear…players are most important. They score goals and prevent the other team for scoring. But on occasion, a coach can and does make the difference. Q has done it on occasion. Positively and negatively. How many coaches would have deduced that the way to beat Boston was to go straight at big, bad Chara?

          I don’t quite think this is a series where all Q has to do is stay out of the players’ way; the teams are closely matched. Unfortunately for Q, and all of us, his most recent coaching move blowed up in his face.

          • Jim

            I’ve always said about most crimes that are committed, if you drew them up on a whiteboard and did a review, most would be scrapped at the design phase.

            Yesterday’s “moves” were right there. If Kane somehow made that last goal, and they won in overtime the moves would have been validated.

          • DJ

            Using a crimes analogy might not be the best; the nature of crime is such that it is often not due to an exercise of rationality (the phrase “crimes of passion” comes to mind).

            But suppose we were up 2-1. I’d still be calling for TT and Vermette to start because the lineup of Games 1-2 gives us, in my opinion, the best chance to win the series. The Game 3 lineup did not.

        • DFIU (Don’t fuck it up!!!)

    • Thank god he reverted the lineup. I could easily see Q try and double down just to “show everyone” fortunately he didn’t. Now let’s go win this damn game.

    • AirTrafficAJ

      You would think so, but people refuse to believe in the fallibility of their glorious mustachioed hero. You watch, when the 3rd line has a combined 8 points tonight they’ll look at it and go “SEE! SEE! He’s so great he out coached himself!”

      Honestly, the man is a very good coach, but there is a reason he never made it to the big show with some very good teams in St Louis.

      • DJ

        I sort of think those St Louis teams ran into better teams (Detroit and Colorado, for starters).

        • AirTrafficAJ

          Those STL teams were very good. Pronger and MacInnis in their respective primes. There is no reason they shouldn’t at least have made the finals once.

    • YoAdrienne

      It should silence them, but it hasn’t. At least not elsewhere. I even saw one twit on the Farcebook calling everyone who dared question his decisions “AHOLES.” (Yeah. I know it’s Facebook…) I’m one who usually gives Q the benefit of the doubt. He knows more about hockey and this team than I do. But, even I was left scratching my head over Thursday’s line-up. When I first saw it, it sucked all the hope out of me.

      • Jim

        I’ve seen comments like yours a lot of places online, and I agree, Hawks fans reading the lineup and immediately realizing Chicago was icing the B Team (and was likely going to lose). Credit the Hawks with almost winning. I think Quenneville was surprised by the backlash. This was about hubris (Vermette and Tuevo said they were healthy), and people see through it.

        • YoAdrienne

          That was the one bright spot in Thursday’s loss. It was only a 2-1 with the B Team. And, they came oh so close to tying it, as well.

  • Jane Doe

    “But Game 3 certainly rocketed up the charts as one of his all-time coaching boners in what is already a greatest hits collection.”

    Unless there was a whole bucketful of viagra involved, the lineup and a couple in-game decisions was about as limp dick coaching as it comes.

    After last year, I really don’t think I can take another 3-1 comeback and heartbreak so please win tonight, boys.

    • margincall

      Actually after the last coaching gaffe ive become indifferent. 3-1 comeback …and why did you have to do it last year? And whos “gaffe” was it in game 7. Couldn’t hold 2, 2 goal leads why? Last years defeat was squarely on him. He got a pass but honestly im really tired of the Ego maniac micro managing. Phil Effin Emery. Always trying to be the smartest guy in the room. Remember, if the abyss looks us square in the eye by weeks end, concentrate on the cups he hasn’t won rather than the ones he has. And as a reminder to some that puts more blame in game 3 on the “superstars”. Your coach is suppose to put you in the best position to succeed. He failed at that in Game 3.

      • DJ

        Your last two sentences are fine. But last year? Seems like Game Seven came down to a blown offside call (on the tying goal) and a blown no-call (the slash that led to the turnover on the winning goal).

  • TitanTransistor

    Hopefully this team’s talent can, one more time, overcome their coach.

    Not feeling too optimistic though. The Ducks are better than they’ve been given credit for.

    • ZigZags82

      Never count out the Hawks. Just because they’ve been underestimated by us, it doesn’t mean they are being underestimated by the Hawks and it doesn’t mean the Hawks can’t beat them and advance. I believe man.

    • cza

      Get ready for three straight wins by the mighty Hawks!

  • Scott13

    If you consider the 3rd OT of Game 2 a full period then Kruger has taken one faceoff in the last 7 periods .

  • rhodes

    Remember when Darling’s SV% was north of .950 during the Nashville series? It was all about the Hawks team defense keeping the Preds out of the danger areas in front of the net. Most of those saves were routine.

    Ducks are doing the same thing to the Hawks. They’ve got to find a way to get into the high% shooting areas and then get the puck through. Make Andersen work today!

    • cza

      Yeah, Andersen has not blown me away, because it seems like we’ve rarely challenged him. He’s made a couple great saves, but I don’t feel like he’s standing on his head and stealing this series. Hopefully we connect on some more passes tonight and get a little more puck luck.

  • B.I.G. Forever

    For everyone that balked at Q’s lineup changes – keep in mind a couple of things. Bowman and the Hawks org have teams of people that study, analyze and study again each and every play that happens. He even has a statistical analysis team that looks at CORSI/FENWICK etc. numbers and study each and every variable each and every game.

    What I’m getting at is this – we all saw Teuvo/Vermette/Kruger Game 2. We all know what they are capable of. Q, Stan and those analysis teams saw those games too. Which leads me to only one possibility – Those Hawks are injured, as are other players.

    I think unfortunately this next game may hinge not on speed or skill or contact – but on health. And after such a long haul thats a sad possibility.

    • Shooter

      I’d agree with you minus both players saying they were fine and didn’t know why they were benched. Vermette a little more blunt than tuevo. I honestly think 2 things happened. 1. Q thought Shaw had such a great game to warrant him moving up a spot and possibly helping Sharp score.(and he won’t move tuevo to 4th line, so enter his other favorite 4th liner Nordstrom)
      2. He thought the ducks may have been gassed as well, so he thought swapping would give them extra energy.
      I can see why he may have thought they’d work, but as soon as he saw it wasn’t, you’re stuck for the game.

    • DJ

      But the one person many speculate is in fact injured — Kruger — played.

  • CornelisonsFlagPointer

    Sopel’s mustache looks like it could change it’s own oil and finish a six pack.