So that’s what it looks like when the Chicago Blackhawks are playing near their best, eh?
Sunday’s 7-4 beat down of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals should be a stern reminder of what one of the league’s best offenses looks like when it’s clicking on all cylinders.
Consider this: If you peruse the box score you’ll notice Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, previously a thorn in the side of Chicago’s top line, was on the ice for every goal against save one. And that’s because he was in the penalty box.
One of the NHL’s top defenders a -5? That’s what Chicago’s offense can do when it’s rolling and head coach Joel Quenneville knows it better than anyone.
That’s why his decision to break up the Byfuglien-Toews-Kane line proved visionary. Splitting up his best scoring threats limited Pronger’s ability to play the role of one-man buzz kill. It’s no surprise Byfuglien and Kane combined for six points then, is it?
Now back on the road in Philadelphia for Game 6, Quenneville won’t be able to control the matchups quite as efficiently. But with his maneuver Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette has to be wondering which goaltender to play in a must-win game after pulling Michael Leighton on Sunday.
In splitting up his scorers coach Q planted seeds of doubt not only in Philadelphia’s goaltender but also in whether Pronger can control the action anymore. That’s the kind of thing that puts a team on the verge of Stanley Cup victory.