CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville is sticking with what worked in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, which his Chicago Blackhawks won 4-3 in triple overtime against the Boston Bruins on a double-deflection goal by Andrew Shaw.
Prior to Game 2 on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), the Chicago coach put his team through its morning skate with the same forward lines that finished the series opener Wednesday.
Rookie Brandon Saad is on the top line with captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, where Shaw played almost the entire regular season and to start the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with left wing Patrick Sharp fitting back into the second line and power forward Bryan Bickell slotting back into left wing on the third line.
"It was six periods [in Game 1], so we got a pretty good assessment of what they're up to," Quenneville said of the Bruins. "I think we got a little bit more comfortable with our own line rotation as we were going along. I think every game is different. We know we're playing a real good team here. We've got to be at our best. Every game is different. I think the lines right now look like they were for most of the regular season."
Particularly with Bickell and Shaw on the third line, which produced both the game-winning goal and one by center Dave Bolland in the third that brought the Blackhawks within 3-2 of Boston after Bruins center Patrice Bergeron made it 3-1 on a power play minutes earlier.
A bigger issue might be leg strength and endurance.
The Game 1 marathon was the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup Final history, and players from both teams logged some mind-boggling minutes. Chief among them was Chicago’s top defenseman, Duncan Keith, who skated 48:50 after playing 40:12 a week ago in a Game 5 win against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final.
The Blackhawks, who were thankful to get two days between games, don’t sound too concerned though.
“Not really, I think if it was only one day in between there would be some question [about] that, but two days there’s really no excuse for that,” Kane said. “Even [at practice on Friday], some of us were saying ‘We could probably play tonight, if need be.’ It’s obviously tough playing that long, especially in a game like that, but it was a huge win for us. Hopefully, we can use that momentum from winning that game and take it into tonight.”
The Blackhawks also know the stakes only go up in the second game of these best-of-7 series. They’ve lost every Game 3 this postseason, including one that followed their lone Game 2 loss against the Detroit Red Wings in the conference semifinals. They also dropped Game 4 of that series and found themselves on the brink of elimination, down 3-1 in that series.
“Looking at every series, for some reason we’ve lost Game 3,” Kane said. “Against Detroit in that Game 2, I think we kind of beat them pretty easily the first game and we thought that was going to be a different series. We know this team’s a good team, though. We know they’re here for a reason and we know they’re very tough to play against. It’s a big game. You want to hold [serve] here at home, especially after last game, kind of stealing that one away from them.”
Here is how the Blackhawks are likely to line up Saturday:
Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp – Michal Handzus – Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell – Dave Bolland – Andrew Shaw
Brandon Bollig – Marcus Kruger – Michael Frolik
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy – Michal Rozsival
Scratched: Jamal Mayers, Viktor Stalberg, Daniel Carcillo, Sheldon Brookbank, Ben Smith, Ryan Stanton, Henrik Karlsson