Rants & Musings : Who Sits?

The return of Andrew Shaw leaves Joel Quenneville with some decision making.

Barring a major setback, Andrew Shaw will be returning the Blackhawks lineup when they take the ice in Los Angeles Saturday night. We haven’t seen the Hockey Monkey since he was hit by Clanton Stoner in the 1st period of the Game 1 versus the Wild. Shaw will add to the Hawks’ depth and his fearlessness in front of the net should make life difficult for Jonathan Quick. With Shaw’s return someone needs to sit, so who is it?

Your two most likely candidates to be scratched are KrisVersteeg and Brandon Bollig, but you can never count out JoelQuenneville scratching Peter Regin either. There is no wayRegin should sit over Versteeg or Bollig but you never know with Q. The debate has raged since the end of Game 2 over who will be in the pressbox for Game 3, Steeger or the lion. In a perfect world they both would sit because neither is doing much to help this team right now. We all know Jeremy Morin isn’t going to see the ice and Joakim Nordstrom is not much of an upgrade since Q doesn’t trust him to play for more than five minutes.

Versteeg and Bollig both have had rough playoff runs. Bollighas a 39.7 CF% in his 11 playoff games, which is one of the lowest on the team. He was suspended for two games in the Minnesota series for boarding Keith Ballard. Things haven’t been much better against the Kings. He was 40 CF% in Game 1 and was a step slow on the Kings lone goal of the game. Bolligimproved his CF% to 45.5 in Game 2 but his 3rd period was a disaster. Early in the period he was offside on a potential odd man rush that included Jonathan Toews. Moments later he was called for interference and the ensuing power play would produce the game tying goal for the Kings. I didn’t see the penalty, so I can’t comment on if it was a soft call or not. But, if you are so far behind the play that no camera in the building picks you up why are you even going anywhere near an opposing player? And yet Bollig didn’t miss a shift. If Morin or, earlier in the season, Brandon Pirri made that same error they would have been put on the first bus back to Rockford.

The Kris Versteeg that wears number 23 is not the same player who wore 32 in his first stint with the Blackhawks. Back in 2009 and 2010 Versteeg had the speed that made his poor puckdecisions a little easier to deal with. Now that he is just a year removed from major knee surgery he doesn’t have that same jump to his step. He doesn’t play a lick of defense and he is doing more harm than good on offense. He finished Game 2 against the Kings with a 16.7 CF%. That is just awful. Versteegis failing the eye test and the numbers game. I have been a huge fan of Versteeg since his rookie year, but this version needs to be shut down and hopefully he can start fresh and contribute more next fall.

Since Q won’t sit them both, I would guess he is going to plug Andrew Shaw into Versteeg’s spot on the 3rd line and leave everyone else where they are at. At least with Bollig in the lineup, the 4th line gets more ice time and Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith are worth having to deal with Bollig’s stupid plays and overall bad hockey.