In Game 1, Toews and Kane were both pretty deep into Lidstrom's pocket. Something needed to change so Q rolled out these lines to start Game 2.
At first glance, there's a lot to like about those lines. The top 4 goal scorers on the Hawks squad each work on their own line giving the Hawks depth that most teams would kill for. It also makes the Wings have to pick who they want to match Lidstrom/Rafalski up against.
For two shifts, Lidstrom was on Toews but Babcock decided Kane was having "too much fun" and switched his captain over to cover the little guy. Even with Lidstrom shadowing him for most of the game Kane was still able to pick it up some, 19 minutes 3 shots, still a -2 and a -10 corsi rating though. Eventually Kane will learn that you simply cannot skate around Lidstrom... hopefully.
Toews obviously fared much better, 2 goals on 3 shots, +1 and +3 Corsi.
So could playing Toews and Kane on different shifts lead to wearing down Lidstrom?
Maybe... Sorry for the cop out but that's the best answer you'll get til we see what happens in more games.
Here's what happened in last night's game though:
There were at least two shifts where Lidstrom stayed out to cover both shifts of the Nation in the third period. That led him to having 3 shifts in a row where he stayed out there for over a minute, one of which ended when Toews put in his second goal of the night.
So in the third Lidstrom averaged a 50.1 second shift (that's lowered by an opening shift that lasted only 6 seconds - take that out of the equation and his average shift was 55 seconds)
You'd think that's good, wear down the old man, right? Not so much..
Lidstrom's average shift in the playoffs has been 49 seconds and his total time on ice yesterday was 24:34.. that's 15 seconds less than his TOI average in the regular season, even with the extra time played last night. (His playoff TOI is skewed due to the triple OT game against the Ducks). So his numbers from last night aren't that far above average for the year. The only thing that stands out is the fact that he was taking longer shifts later in the game.
Lets use Game 6 in the Scum/Ducks series as a comparison. In the third period of that game Lidstrom only had two shifts over a minute and they were fairly far apart. He also only averaged a shift length of 48 seconds in the final period.
So the good news - Yes, Lidstrom was playing longer minutes later in the game which could, maybe, lead to him wearing down as the series goes on. But it's far from a sure thing and not something the Hawks can pin their hopes on - only time will tell if Lidstrom keeps up those kind of numbers or if it will wear him down at all.
What is pretty clear though that forcing Lidstrom to only play against one of these two gives a big advantage to the other. The Wings defense is strong but there's still only one player of Lidstrom's caliber. Getting the Hawks top players out there when he's not on the ice is a big advantage.