Joel Quenneville’s gusto for station by “dependable” 30-and-over veterans will be tested like never before in his seven-year reign as a Blackhawks’ manager this postseason.
Those veterans are a bigger partial of a Hawks’ fortunes in this year’s playoff, many of them display their age in varying degrees during a unchanging deteriorate — from charter-members-of-the-core Marian Hossa (36) and Patrick Sharp (33) to 2013 Cup veterans Michael Rozsival (36) and Johnny Oduya (33) to newcomers Brad Richards (34) and Kimmo Timonen (40).
Just dual years ago, when a Hawks won their second Cup underneath Quenneville in 2013, a Hawks (26.8 normal age) were in a practical tie with a Kings (26.5) and Blues (26.7) as a youngest teams in a Western Conference playoffs. This deteriorate a Hawks (28.7) clearly are a oldest — scarcely a year per male comparison than a next-oldest team, a St. Louis Blues (27.8).
The Hawks once had a multiple of speed, abyss and flexibility that was unmatched in a NHL. More and some-more they’re a organisation perplexing to keep up. The first-round matchup with a Predators is typical. “We’re going to have to play with a lot of speed,” Richards said. “They’re substantially one of a fastest teams, a approach they pierce a puck and pierce as a unit.”
Keeping adult with a competition used to be child’s play for a Hawks. Now it’s a challenge. Timonen, chasing a Stanley Cup for a final time during 40, is approaching to start on a third defensive pairing with Roszival in Game 1 opposite a Predators. If they’re together in Game 2, it will be a good sign. If not …
2. On offense, Hossa (22 goals in 82 games) and Sharp (16 goals in 68 games) will be underneath a microscope after posting career-low sharpened percentages for a full season. Quenneville argued that sharpened percentages are down league-wide (in fact, 36 of a tip 50 scorers from 2013-14 have reduce sharpened percentages this season). But Hossa and Sharp have quite steep drops from final deteriorate — Hossa from 12.4 to 8.9; Sharp from 10.9 to 7.0.
Both are entrance off subpar playoffs in 2014. Sharp had 5 goals and 10 points in 19 games, though was a minus-5 opposite a Kings in a discussion final. Hossa had dual goals and 14 points in 19 games. But he left in a final 6 games opposite a Kings — no goals, one support and a minus-5.
3. Quenneville already is meditative of Plan B on defense. Asked about abyss behind Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Oduya, Quenneville fast mentioned Kyle Cumiskey, who spent of many of a deteriorate during Rockford.
“He’s another man that can play,” Quenneville said. “Like his speed. He couldn’t come adult during a finish with a [salary cap] restrictions.”
Regardless, it will be a plea for a Hawks to find dual “dependable” defenseman behind their tip four.
“We had 9 invulnerability [men] out there [Monday],” Quenneville said. “We’ve got a lot of options. Performance will foreordain how that plays out. But positively it gives us a lot of options and abyss and some things to consider about.”
4. Quenneville came to his defensemen’s defense when asked if his defensive-line abyss was good adequate in a unchanging deteriorate to also win in a playoffs.
“I consider we led a joining in goals-against [they did, restraining a Canadiens with 189 idea allowed],” Quenneville said, “so I’d contend that’s a enrich to not usually a goaltenders, though a invulnerability and a whole organisation invulnerability in front of them.
“So we consider defensively, if we’re obliged as a organisation of five, we’re effective in that area. We feel that’s a unequivocally critical item to have — knowing that in a playoffs, invulnerability unequivocally when we get down to it, wins a infancy of a time. And off that we get offense from it. Primarily a regard now is how good we check and how we play though a puck.”
4a. While a Hawks indeed tied a Canadiens for a fewest goals allowed, they also were 22nd in shots authorised (30.2) — a extraordinary dump from fourth place in that difficulty in 2013-14 (27.2) and 2012-13 (26.2).
5. On paper, a Hawks’ knowledge as a team that knows how to win playoff array competence be their biggest advantage. Of a 7 other playoff teams in a Western Conference, usually Vancouver has even reached a discussion final in a final 8 seasons — and a Canucks haven’t won a playoff array in a final 3 years.
The Blues have won one playoff array in a final 12 seasons. The Predators have won dual in their 15-year history. The Ducks, ongoing postseason underachievers, have won one playoff array in a final 5 years.
In fact, in a prior 6 seasons a other 7 playoff teams in a Western Conference have total for 10 playoff-series victories. The Hawks have 12 by themselves.
6. With a passing of a Bruins and a Sharks — both of whom unsuccessful to make a playoffs — a Hawks are one of 3 NHL teams that have finished a playoffs a final 7 seasons. The others are a Red Wings (24 in a row) and a Penguins (nine).
7. How excellent is a line between success and disaster in today’s NHL? In 2011-12, a Kings finished 40-27-15 (95 points) and won a Stanley Cup. In 2014-15, a Kings finished 40-27-15 (95 points) and unsuccessful to make a playoffs.
The Kings are nonetheless another organisation to onslaught a year after winning a Cup in a salary-cap era. Only a Red Wings (2007-09) have reached a Cup Final a following season. The Blackhawks (2012-14) are a usually other organisation to even strech a discussion final in a non-lockout season.
8. The Blackhawks are undaunted by a awaiting of carrying to win on a highway to kick a Predators (or a Blues or Ducks for that matter). The Hawks have won during slightest one highway diversion in any of their final 15 playoff series. Only a Bruins (17 straight) have a longer streak.
The Hawks were 16-12 on a highway in a playoffs from 2010-13. Last year they were 3-6 — losing a initial dual highway games opposite a Blues, Wild and Kings before winning a third.
9. A year ago a Hawks were using on empty during a finish of a playoffs — mentally as good as physically — after an strenuous deteriorate following a brief summer after winning a Cup, and carrying 10 players in a Olympic Games. They mislaid a two-goal lead 5 times in a postseason, including 3 times in a discussion final opposite a Kings.
This year they will be comparatively fresher though a year older, and a plea is identical — rising to a arise well and productively so their knowledge as postseason winners creates a difference. It’s now their strongest suit.
“This is what we’re connected for — perplexing to be a champion during a end,” Quenneville said. “We have a lot of guys that have some good practice here. We’ll really speak about a event here being special and let’s everybody make a grant to do all we can to find a approach to get it done.”
10. First-round picks to click: In a West, Blackhawks over Predators in 6; Blues over Wild in 7; Ducks over Jets in 5; Flames over Canucks in 6.
In a East, Canadiens over Senators in 5; Red Wings over Lightning in 7; Rangers over Penguins in 6; Capitals over Islanders in 6.