Blackhawks: Roster Decisions Needed Saturday

While meeting the media on Friday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville confirmed that the coaching staff will have a conversation about whether they turn to Ray Emery in net for Game Five in Phoenix.

That’s just one of a number of decisions the team needs to make to improve their chances of winning on Saturday, and into the future.

On Thursday night, Quenneville mixed up his rotation by inserting veteran center Brendan Morrison into the lineup in place of the more physical Jamal Mayers. And, shockingly, Morrison scored his first goal as a member of the Blackhawks to get Chicago on the board in the third period.

If Quenneville is going to mix up his lines, he needs to get real with the players on his roster. And he needs to make some critical decisions.

Leave Brandon Saad in the lineup.

He was as good as most of the veterans on Thursday night, and his confidence should only increase with a home game under his belt. He was physical, smart with the puck, and skated hard; if we could say that about three of the defensemen on the roster, this season might not be on the brink.

Dress Jimmy Hayes in place of Andrew Brunette.

Brunette, 38, played 13:43 on Thursday night. He was credited with one hit and one shot on net in 16 shifts, and was minus-one in the game. Hayes, 22, hasn’t played since April 7 in Detroit.

Brunette is too slow for the NHL, much less a Chicago team that desperately needs to accelerate the pace of the game. Frankly, at this point in the postseason, if Hayes isn’t ready for the playoffs it doesn’t matter much because not many of the veterans have shown up yet either. See if the 6’6″ 200-pound rookie can match the one shot and one hit that Brunette produced on Thursday night.

Brunette won’t be here next year; Hayes will be. Get the kid some playoff experience and up the tempo.

Dress Brandon Pirri in place of Morrison/Mayers.

Just about everything I said about playing Hayes over Brunette is true here as well. Pirri, who turned 21 on April 10, might not be as big as Hayes (listed at 6’1″ and 180 pounds), but he was an AHL All-Star this year and led Rockford in scoring with 23 goals and 33 assists in games.

Morrison skated just over nine minutes on Thursday night, lost all four of his faceoffs, and scored a goal on two shots on net. Mayers is averaging 8:45 per game with zero points through three games. The Hawks need to add speed to the lineup, and Pirri’s had a nice offensive year.

And, again, Pirri will be here next year. Get the kid some experience.

The veterans pieces that were brought in for one year served their purpose: the Blackhawks survived an injury-plagued regular season and made the playoffs.

But now the bottom line is simple. The Blackhawks must play the lineup that gives them the best chance to win now, and must also consider the future of the organization as well. Putting a couple of kids into the lineup for veterans that haven’t been productive might not only be the best choice for the organization long-term, but would likely improve the current team’s chances of advancing.

Based on what we’ve seen from the Hawks offense so far this postseason, playing Pirri and Hayes certainly couldn’t make matter worse.

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24 Responses to Blackhawks: Roster Decisions Needed Saturday

  1. Pete says:

    Yes Tab. We need speed. Good post.

  2. Hockeybroad says:

    Both Brunette & OD have looked slow as mud this series. OD has also made some glaring mistakes for such a vet, and although Brunette is one of the few players on the team that consistently gets to the net, he can’t keep up when he’s playing a defensive role.

    Put Hayes in for Brunette. He gets to the net, he’s a big body, doesn’t hesitate to hit, grinds in the corners. He’ll be here next year, and he’s been on championship teams (BC); he’s got the mindset. Give him a chance. At this point, he can’t be *worse*.

    Get OD out; put Lepistö in. And give the man 10+ minutes — what’s the point of anybody dressing for the playoffs and getting under 5 TOI? He played for PHX for almost 2 seasons, top minutes – he knows the team’s tendencies.

    And put Mayers back in over Bollig. Mayers has the playoffs experience, can play more TOI, while providing the grit – and if needed, fists. Not sure I’d toss Pirri straight into the playoffs.

    Goal is a big question mark. Crawford did very well on the road, but the two softies in OT in the past 2 games? Problem is that Emery hasn’t played in 3 weeks. Carter Hutton? Big risk to give him his first NHL games in the playoffs, but then again, look at Holtby lighting it up in Washington. I’m sure there’s some pretty interesting discussion going on between Q, the coaches, and their goalies today.

  3. Marcus says:

    (1) HYFR. (2) Yes. & (3) Yes.

  4. Jim says:

    Hayes is a must for Saturday. Without Shaw there really is not the needed body in front of the net. First two periods Hawks have had a ton of shots, but nobody getting rebounds and deflections around the net. Smith is an excellent goalie and is going to stop most of the long shots they are taking. If they can execute around the net on the rebounds and deflections maybe the “stars” will stop trying to be pretty to create stuff when the long shots are not going in. Those pretty plays end up in turnovers in the back of our net.

  5. Elio Bevilacqua says:

    …..the revolving doors franchise that the Blackhawks have become since winning the Cup has little chance or hope of turning things around in the playoffs….there has only been band-aid solutions to the goaltending, powerplay and penalty killing….the arrogant dismissal of key players has finally caught up with this team that is no longer responsive and has lost their will to win……..we have to face the facts and hope that this miserable season will end soon!!!…….

  6. Nancy Anne Johnson says:

    Speed, speed, speed…defense….goaltending!!!! All extremely important factors if Hawks plan to make another legitimate run to capture Lord Stanley. It was apparent on Thursday night our lines were confused by the amount of turnovers at the lines and in our zone. I’ve been screaming, well maybe not that dramatic, but since day one I kept requesting to know why Hayes wasn’t being utilized, but never received an answer. He’s a young kid with determination, he knows how to dig in the corners, position himself at the net, when know he can score goals and he has speed. We desperately need depth in our defense, the amount of turnovers, unfinished checks was difficult to watch. Mr. Q. has to believe in the Hawks of tomorrow, by allowing them to play now. You don’t know until you try.

  7. Dominic says:

    Can we put Carter Hutton in? Heck, we might as well at this stage. That kid needs some experience too.

  8. Tab Bamford says:

    to Elio: “the arrogant dismissal of key players” statement makes me wonder if you have any concept of economics in professional sports at all. We’re really… REALLY?… still … complaining about players that have been gone for two years? It’s called a salary cap. The NHL has one. Welcome to the real world. The end.

  9. Sean Diamond says:

    Some excelleng excellent points Rab. And THANK YOU for commenting on Elio’s post. One: GET OVER IT! and Two: Elio, do you even understand why the players were traded/let go??? Obviously not!!! “Arrogant dismissal….” if you dont know what you’re talking about….DONT SAY ANYTHING!!!

  10. glenn anderson penalty against LA says:

    why is shanny hamstammering over the plan with torres. if that guy doesn’t get suspended for a good chunk of time I’d say we ought to dress bollig just to take out doan or give smith something to really cry on the floor about.

  11. beachpig says:

    I like most of the ideas, although, like HockeyBroad, I say leave Pirri out. But I am a go for Crawford. I think you sit him down and say,”Get out there, get focused and win this thing. Lock it in like you were last year.” If he does, he’s got the confidence for game 6, if he doesn’t, the Toews Charity Golf Classic is available for us to use our Playoff ticket money on.

  12. Disappointed says:

    Agree on Hayes ,Pirri and Saad. But ,big picture…we need a STRONG goalie next year. Look at the teams in the West who will survive : LA, Nashville, Stlouis and Phoenix —-one thing in common . Dominant goaltending. And what do we do with our roster for next season ?

    I am VERY disappointed in the coaching — we do the same thing on the PK and PP and it never gets better.

    I want the Hawks to change coaches. Q has been outcoached in this series–badly .

  13. kevin says:

    Fuck Brunette and OD. They are so slow it is embarrassing to dress them. Hayes, Pirri and Saad makes too much sense to be done without a plethora of injuries.

  14. JS says:

    Seriously guys everyone understand that the Hawks would be better with a dominant goaltender. Don’t you think EVERY team that doesn’t have a dominant goaltender wants one? They don’t grow on freaking trees. Most of these guys are brought up through systems or they are like Mike Smith and catch magic in a bottle.

  15. Brad Stevenson says:

    That wasn’t a good article, that was a GREAT article…thanks for having the courage to write it…I agree with all your suggestions and the reasons behind them…

  16. Disappointed says:

    We need a GREAT goalie ..don’t care where Stan finds one . The sometimes mediocre and often inconsistent play of Crow ( and Turco and Huet in prior years) is not good enough in today’s NHL .

    Our special teams are not special; our coaching is not good and our defense is much slower and smaller than in past years. Come on Stan —quit dreaming and fix this team.

  17. wall says:

    too much credit/blame to goaltending… not enough credit or blame to the team in front of goaltender…

    last couple years Bryzgalov was DOMINANT in Phoenix…. he goes to less structured (offensive dominant philly) and he looks like Swiss cheese in the net!!!

    Just like I have said all year Duncan Keith wasn’t even the best defender on team 2010…
    the TEAM was just that Fucking great!!!

    I am not a Crow fan… he is average or less… but the Hawks are flat out being outplayed and Keith, Leddy, Oduya, and Odon… have been weak in front of net and boards all year!!! Keith can’t get a shot on goal!!!

  18. Disappointed says:

    wall —good points. I agree.

    What do you think of the coaching this year ?

    How do we get more out of this roster —especially our defense ? Who do we move ?

  19. Ryan says:

    We have to keep Crawford in goal I think. I agree about dropping Bruno and Bollig from the lineup. Also drop O’Donnell for Lepisto

    Saad – Toews – Kane
    Sharp – Kruger – Stalberg
    Bickell – Bolland – Frolik
    Mayers – Pirri – Hayes

    Keith – Seabrook
    Hammer – Leddy
    Oduya – Lepisto

  20. Ryan says:

    Shaw would be back for game 6 if it goes there. then the 4th line could be
    Frolik – Mayers – Hayes

  21. stealthwise says:

    I hate reading really good ideas here, getting all excited, and then watching the coaching staff do the opposite. One thing seems certain though, if the Hawks lose in five this way, we’ve likely see the end of Q behind the bench. He’s a motivator, not a tactician, and he hasn’t been able to get a consistent effort out of this group.

  22. Gou says:

    Net minding helps, look at what Rinne did to Detroit. I agree the 2010 team was awesome, but good D in front makes a difference and that team had that along with a potent O. Ask Niemi with the porous SJ D. We let our goalie go and here we are. Nothing against Crow, but those are two saves that have to be made in the playoffs. Leedy went curling on the play that put us in this hole.
    Elio, please leave, until you understand the salary cap. Watch Doug Wilson work his magic.

  23. Brad Stevenson says:

    Maybe in the offseason we can trade Hammer to SJ for Niemi…I mean Hammer is the next Nik Lidstrom, right?

  24. RyanDale says:

    Hayes is a must imo. I wanted him from the get go. I’m willing to let Crawford win or lose it at this point. I can’t get CSN chicago but Smith hasnt been the Superman that the NBC family has been making him out to be. We can/have scored on him, just need a little break here, there. More traffic a must. And please D try to hit the net from the point when shooting

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