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2010 Stanley Cup finals: Should Chicago consider breaking up Kane and Toews?

Jun 1, 2010, 3:30 PM EDT

topline.jpgWinning tends to conceal blemishes like a crafty woman’s makeup. You forget the defensive breakdowns because your goalie made some key stops. Perhaps the struggles of crucial players can be glazed over thanks to an unexpected contribution or two.

Up 2-0 after holding strong with two one-goal victories at home, the Chicago Blackhawks may be able to absolve Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for being unproductive so far in the first two games of the series. That doesn’t change the fact that they have been more or less invisible to begin the Cup finals, though. Patrick Kane has 0 points, 5 shots on goal, 2 PIM and a -3 rating while Jonathan Toews also has no points, 3 shots on goal, and a -2 rating. The only common member of the team’s best line to have a point is Dustin Byfuglien, who managed to collect an assist in Game 2.

I took a look at the most common line combinations during the playoffs for Jonathan Toews, and Toews-Kane-Byfuglien is by far the most frequent even strength trio. (source: Dobber Hockey) That’s been the even strength combo for 40% of the time. My thought is: could the team benefit from splitting up the two faces of its franchise?

In the regular season, the most common top line was Troy Brouwer-Toews-Kane. If Chicago wanted to revert back to that group, they’d still get some brute force in the form of Brouwer while having that one-two offensive punch. Another interesting possibility would be switching Marian Hossa for Kane. A Byfuglien-Toews-Hossa line would be about as strong on the puck as you could get.

Of course, there’s also another strong possibility as to why the line is suffering: Chris Pronger. Just look at the last time the menacing behemoth was in the Stanley Cup finals; the red-hot line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson could barely muster a fight against Pronger and the brutal Anaheim Ducks. A truly elite defenseman is one thing this Chicago team faced little of in the playoffs. While the Nashville Predators sport a true gem in Shea Weber, the Vancouver Canucks defense core was riddled with injuries (including to their big shutdown blueliner Willie Mitchell) and the San Jose Sharks best defensemen were offense-minded (Dan Boyle), aged beyond their prime (Rob Blake) or more position-conscious than intimidating (Marc-Edouard Vlasic). Pronger is on a whole other level than everyone except Weber, maybe.

So, ultimately, the biggest perk of splitting up Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews may just be that Pronger can’t be on the ice to harass them all the time. Maybe I’m giving Pronger too much credit, but even if the Blackhawks are overwhelming the Flyers with their superior depth and goaltending, one has to wonder if they can do much damage against a team so strong at home (Philadelphia is 7-1 at the Wachovia Center).

Why wait until you lose to make adjustments in order to improve your chances of winning?

  1. Francis - Jun 1, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    I think it’d be a good idea. Try it out for a game. If these players don’t get going eventually, Chicago will be in trouble. But then the issue is, who goes where? Hossa’s line has been good, so you don’t want to split them up. the “Checking line” has been great.
    I think if anyone’s going to get moved it’d be Byfuglien.
    Something really needs to be done because it’s not like they’ve had good games and just haven’t scored; these have just been bad games for this line. They can’t generate any decent scoring chances. the most they’ve been able to muster is short cycles along the boards. Who knows, though? Maybe they’re on the verge of producing.

  2. KanerT - Jun 1, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    No way do break up Toews and Kane for two reasons –
    1. Even if they aren’t producing, they’re a threat on the ice and sooner or later things will go their way.
    2. They’re up 2-0 in the series, no need to rob peter to pay paul as breaking them up means you would be juggling the other three lines that have played well and produced.
    3. When Hossa struggled, they didn’t move him around.. he just kept at it.

  3. Joe - Jun 1, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    The game is all about winning. Not about how many points your two big names can get. If the Flyers can take thier best players and nuetralize the Hawks top line, the Hawks will be ok. Their second , third and forth lines are mush better than the Flyers as we saw in game one and two. Let the likes of a Hossa, Eager, or Niemi be a star……….

  4. Luce - Jun 1, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Two games without points and we are ready to switch things up???? We’ve won two games now and while Philly is good at home, they aren’t as good as San Jose was…not to mention we are amazing playing away.
    I think we need opinions from people who know about hockey rather then people looking for stories. Stupidest thing I’ve heard in awhile.

  5. HosserKanerBollsie - Jun 1, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    I think that Kane has been a little absent for much of the playoffs. Get him in the corners and hit him hard and he goes away. That being said, he is still capable of a 2 or 3 pt game. It looks to me that the mere threat of the Kane-Toews-BigBuff line draws a lot of defensive energy away from the other lines, and all good teams have 2 or 3 (sometimes 4)really capable lines. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in TSCP. I don’t really care how many points any of them have…just win.

  6. Little Tommy - Jun 1, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    In my humble opinion, we should let the coaches coach and let fans just be fans. I think by this point in the season Q knows what he’s doing!

  7. Philip R - Jun 1, 2010 at 8:52 PM

    Man… what a dumb opinion!!!
    As for the other opinions… they’re really dumb too!
    My opinion? …. hmmmmm….. maybe just as dumb as the rest (maybe).
    And what’s the point of having a “humble” opinion when it’s totally dumbass anyhow?
    That said…. it sure is fun to watch the games!… and then have dumb opinions about them (and read other ones, and then get into dumb arguments about them).
    I’ll drink to that!
    That said… GO FLAWKS!!!

  8. Tony - Jun 1, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    Want to point out 1st I’m a BlackHawks fan by virtue of being a Chicago native, but I have no clue about hockey. I dont’t get this I thought the Hawks were winning and since hockey is a traditionally low scoreing sport what is the point of this article?

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  10. Shawn - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I like the fact that this guy gives Chicago no chance to win at Philadelphia. I would like to point out that the San Jose Sharks were unbeatable at home too! Chicago has won 7 straight on the road. I think they will be able to handle it!

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