By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) After Wednesday morning skate ahead of Game 2, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said that he expects injured forward Andrew Shaw to return to the lineup for Saturday’s Game 3 of a Western Conference Final series tied 1-1 against the Kings.
There are several candidates to sit in place of Chicago’s pesky winger.
Some are calling for Brandon Bollig to sit. He had a bad game in Game 2, including a penalty that led to the Kings’ tying goal. He only plays six minutes a game and needs to be “protected.” It’s clear the Blackhawks want to limit his ice time and use him in select situations. He is a “Quenneville guy,” however, and seems impervious to punishment. In fact, as soon as he served his interference penalty in Game 2, the was right back on the ice.
You know who isn’t a Quenneville guy? Peter Regin. He might be the most likely candidate to sit, as he’s plugged in to Shaw’s third-line center role right now. Shaw’s been bad on faceoffs during the playoffs (29.6 percent), and Quenneville certainly notices little things like that. I believe he’s been extremely effective, and he was a literal inch from scoring Wednesday night. He’s been a catalyst and an effective player. I hope he remains in the lineup when Shaw returns.
If I was the coach, the choice is obvious. Kris Versteeg is sitting. Since the Blackhawks re-acquired him, he’s scored 32 points in 74 combined regular-season and playoff games. He’s one-dimensional, and that dimension only appears in short flashes. Versteeg has gone from a legit, two-way scoring threat in 2010 to a turnover-prone defensive liability in 2014.
On Wednesday night, Versteeg’s possession numbers were absolutely abysmal. His Corsi for was three. His Corsi against was 15. That means that when Versteeg was on the ice, the Blackhawks only mustered three shot attempts, while surrendering 15 attempts themselves. That gave Versteeg a game-low 16.3 percent Corsi rating. He’s doing nothing beneficial and has actually become a bit of a detriment.
Say what you want about Bollig’s game, but at least when his line is on the ice, Chicago wins it shifts. Versteeg has been a toxic linemate. It’s time for him to take a seat — maybe for the rest of the playoffs.
Here would be my suggested line for Game 3 (conceding the fact that Jeremy Morin isn’t an option)
The best players should play. At this point, these (realistic Quenneville) lines give the Blackhawks the best chance to win.
Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.
** After Saturday’s Game 3, please tune in to 670 AM or stream at 670thescore.com/listen. I will be taking your post game calls as soon as the final horn sounds.