Cup Final Update: The Chara Factor

Posted: 06/12/2013 by bc in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville juggled his top lines at practice Tuesday in preparation for the Stanley Cup Final opener tonight. Coach Q switched Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa on the top two lines. Kane joins Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell. Hossa skates alongside Jonathon Toews and Patrick Sharp.

It shouldn’t surprise if during home games if Quenneville gets Toews or Kane out on the ice during the 30 minutes Zdeno Chara is on the Bruins bench. A Hossa-Chara matchup will be interesting as the players are next door neighbors during the off-season and teammates on Slovakia’s national team.

International hockey is certainly poorer for the breakup of Czechoslovakia, but I digress.

We might also expect Q to switch up which line goes against Chara. Obviously, Handzus-Bickell are more physical than Toews-Hossa. I mention the C-RW’s because Chara plays left side D.

Additionally, enforcer Brandon Bollig skated in Viktor Stalberg’s spot on the 3rd line. Many observers cited this as a move to provide former Duck grinder Shawn Thornton a dance partner. I’m not so quick to buy into conventional or majority press opinion.

To replace Stalberg, Bollig moves from his natural LW position to RW. Quenneville has put two physical players, Bickell and Bollig followed by two finesse players Hossa and Frolik on RW opposing left D Chara.

It would appear from the lineup Coach Q’s plan is to bang Chara up then make him skate. Bang him up then make him skate. Eventually ‘Redwood’ has to wear down. We’ll see.

When our Ducks met Chara and the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup Final, the then chip and chase Ducks, dumped to the right side manned by Wade Redden and kept the puck away from Chara as much as possible. Ducks so thoroughly beat up on Redden that he was never the same player after that series.

I’m stoked because this series, as Coach Nye described in Then There Was Two,  will be decided by the matchups and one on one battles.

One matchup that could decide the series Boston’s forecheck against Chicago’s lightning quick transition from the backline. That’s how espn’s Pierre Lebrun sees it.

Boston may forego the forecheck and look to trap Chicago in the neutral zone. They may back out of the neutral zone and line up four guys across their own blue line and force Chicago to play chip and chase.

Wherever the Bruins decide to press the attack, look for them to defend in layers and swarm the puck. It all breaks down to the one on one battles as Coach Nye described.

If you’ve followed this blog’s Cup coverage and read Nye, Lebrun and Cullen you’re well prepared for the series start.

  1. Warren Nye says:

    Hey Boys thanks for the mention on the great article. You betcha its going to be a dandy series!
    Coach Nye

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