by PuckStopsHere on 06/03/10 at 02:04 PM ET
The Stanley Cup finals continued last night. The Philadelphia Flyers won. The story is that now we will have a series. Chicago is not going to win in four straight (it may take them five or more games). This is a forgettable Stanley Cup finals series played between teams that are not historically elite (and in Philadelphia’s case arguably the worst team to make the Stanley Cup finals ever). In lieu of quality hockey, we have had close games. Every game so far has been a one goal game and game three was decided in overtime.
Why did Philadelphia win game three? I think the biggest reason is a coaching mistake made by Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. Quenneville has been trying to match lines with the Flyers throughout the series. At home where he has the last change, this has been a possibility, but but on the road where the Flyers have the last change this is much more difficult. Immediately after a faceoff, win or lose, the Blackhawks were attempting to change lines in game three. That is a good way to give up momentum after a faceoff win and to distract the team from playing their game of hockey.
Instead of trying to score a goal and to prevent Philadelphia from scoring, Chicago is trying to make a line change. They have been given priorities that are further removed from playing winning hockey than Philadelphia is.
Both of the Philadelphia even strength goals (the first and second Flyer goal were both scored on the power play) occurred a few seconds after a faceoff. Chicago had just completed their line-matching line change and in doing so gave up the puck to the Flyers. Philadelphia scored the tying goal by Ville Leino and the winning goal by Claude Giroux as the Blackhawks were getting back into the play after an unnecessary line change.
Joel Quenneville is the man most responsible for Chicago’s game three loss and he did it by outsmarting himself. He tried to play an unnecessarily difficult line-matching game and that extra difficulty distracted Chicago from playing their game at critical points in the game allowing Philadelphia to score the tying and winning goals. Let’s see if Quenneville has learned from game three or if he repeats his mistakes in game four.
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