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NHL: Coaches' subtle adjustments gaining spotlight in Stanley Cup Finals

Published June 21, 2013 6:44 pm

NHL playoffs • Small changes have made differences in tight games.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Chicago • They keep tinkering, each of them, looking for any advantage they can find.

Claude Julien made a line change in Game 2 that led to a victory for the Boston Bruins. A couple of subtle adjustments by Joel Quenneville helped the Chicago Blackhawks get a big win in Game 4.

Back and forth it goes. While the Bruins and Blackhawks compete on the ice, two former NHL defensemen are trying to become the 14th coach with at least two Stanley Cup titles.

"They've got a role to play, just like we do as players," Chicago forward Patrick Sharp said Friday. "Ultimately it's going to be decided on the ice, but our coaching staff, the Bruins as well, they have a lot to say with what goes on."

They've already had an impact. And the next move, along with the response from the other bench, could be a deciding factor in who wins this tight series between two of the NHL's most beloved franchises.

The Blackhawks' 6-5 overtime victory in Boston on Wednesday made it a split of the first four games. The series resumes on Saturday night in Chicago, with the rest of league's coaching fraternity enjoying the chess match between two of its most accomplished members.

"What has been fun to watch is, neither guy is hoping for chemistry to develop," St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They're not sitting on a combination. They're moving guys around to try to find something and their proactive approaches have been one of the great things about the series."

Quenneville's team appeared to be in trouble heading into Game 4. The Bruins controlled the last part of a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 2, stealing home-ice advantage from Chicago, and shut down the Blackhawks in a 2-0 victory Monday night that put Boston up 2-1 in the finals.

Looking for an offensive spark, Quenneville put captain Jonathan Toews back on the same line with Patrick Kane ahead of Game 4. Toews responded with his second goal of the playoffs, and Kane had a goal and an assist. The Blackhawks' defensemen also were more active in the offensive zone, with Brent Seabrook scoring the winning goal.

Shortly after the series-tying victory, Quenneville still managed to poke fun at himself when asked about putting Toews and Kane together again.

"Maybe it looks like I didn't know what I was doing," he said with a chuckle. —

Stanley Cup Finals

O All games are at 6 p.m. on Ch. 5

Game 1 • Chicago 4, Boston 3, 3OT

Game 2 • Boston 2, Chicago 1, OT

Game 3 • Boston 2, Chicago 0

Game 4 • Chicago 6, Boston 5, OT

Game 5, Saturday • Boston at Chicago

Game 6, Monday • Chicago at Boston

x-Game 7, Wednesday • Boston at Chicago

x-if necessary