Reporting Steve Silverman
By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) Joel Quenneville is not too stubborn for his own good.
He heard the whispers that had turned into dull roars. There were serious questions about his line combinations.
The Blackhawks had not scored a goal since the first period of Game 2 and they had no semblance of sustained offense in Game 3. Surely he couldn’t keep Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane separated any longer.
No, he couldn’t. Quenneville put those two together on the same line and he also added hard-nosed Bryan Bickell to the unit.
The result was an energized team that found its skating legs and scoring touch in a 6-5 overtime victory, the third game in the Stanley Cup Final to go into extra time.
The hero was Brent Seabrook, who seems to specialize in ending overtime games. It was Seabrook who eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in the seventh game on an overtime wrister.
This time, it was a slapshot that was too much for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. The Finnish goalie had been spectacular in the first three games of the series, but he looked very human in giving up six goals to the Blackhawks.
While the win was the big news and it allowed the Blackhawks to tie the series 2-2, it was the play of Toews and Kane that excited the Chicago locker room.
Toews had not scored in 10 games and had just one postseason goal. He had been obsessing about finding a way to get back on the scoreboard and he did it when he deflected a second-period Michal Roszival shot by Rask.
Kane followed up his line mate with a backhand goal just a few minutes later. Kane’s goal gave the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead, but this would not be an easy game as the Bruins responded.
Patrice Bergeron would score two goals for Boston, while Rich Peverley, Milan Lucic and Johnny Boychuk would also find the back of the net. Boychuk’s rocket tied the score in the third period after Patrick Sharp had scored on a power play goal (no lie).
The win was a thriller and the highest scoring Stanley Cup Final game since the Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 7-4 in 2010.
But it was also troubling because Corey Crawford gave up five goals, all to the glove side. Quenneville said he was not concerned, but the Bruins are clearly targeting his glove hand on all their shots.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien appreciated his team’s battle level and his players’ ability to come back, but he was quite clear about why the Blackhawks were able to get the win.
“They were better than we were,” Julien said.
It’s rare that a coach will be so straightforward in his analysis. It’s clear that Julien will share his analysis with his team in order to get them to play better in Game 5 Saturday at the United Center.
In some ways this series is just getting started. It’s a best-of-three and two of the games will be in Chicago.
The Blackhawks demonstrated that Rask is not impenetrable and that they have the speed to cause big problems for the Bruins. If they can sustain both of those factors two more times, they will raise the Stanley Cup for the second time in four years.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.