If you’re still wondering what went wrong at the critical moments of Game 3, it comes down to awareness -- both defensive awareness and line-change awareness. The Hawks had breakdowns in both.
The winning goal hurt the most because it could have been avoided if not for a mental lapse, most likely by Kris Versteeg.
“I think maybe we could have just had one guy change on the play instead of two,” Joel Quenneville said. “Which gave them a little extra man on the rush.”
The Hawks have been so adept at changing on the fly this postseason, it’s hard to recall a time before Game 3 where it hurt them. After a center ice faceoff, both Tomas Kopecky and Versteeg went for a change as Quenneville wanted the Toews line on the ice against Daniel Briere. The only problem?
The Flyers had the puck and were attacking. It left both Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Kane, who jumped over the boards for Kopceky and Versteeg, well behind the play. They were on the ice when the goal went in. That’s about the most unfair minus two players can receive.
More than likely, it was Versteeg who should have stayed on the ice. The play was in front of him, while Kopecky was already behind it. Versteeg basically passed up the puck handler in his haste to get to the bench. Game over.
“I don't want to get too technical,” Quenneville said. “We don't want to point fingers. When you are trying to match lines, sometimes you're going to be vulnerable to a tough change. Sometimes there are too many men. Sometimes a guy gets a late change coming off the bench as well. So that's all part of it. In a situation like that, I'll take the hit for it.”
On the tying goal in the third period, it appeared the normally reliable Patrick Sharp gave up on the play, allowing Ville Leino a prime position for a rebound. It occurred just after Patrick Kane gave the Hawks their first lead. Quenneville talks often about the critical need to have good shifts after scores and so a case can be made that he should have put his top two defensemen on the ice instead of his five and six, to ensure a good shift. They didn’t cause the problem but maybe a quicker player like Duncan Keith could have broken up the play. Hindsight is 20/20.
The bottom line? Sharp should have blanketed Leino and the goal probably never occurs.