CHICAGO — Coach Joel Quenneville decided to adjust his lineup for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Bruins at the United Center Wednesday night.
He separated center Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane, which isn’t very unusual since they are used to playing with others. Instead, Toews started out centering left wing Patrick Sharp and right wing Marian Hossa. Kane was on a line centered by Michal Handzus with Bryan Bickell on the left side.
The third combination had Dave Bolland between left wing Brandon Saad and right wing Andrew Shaw. The fourth line was made up of center Marcus Kruger, left wing Brandon Bollig, and right wing Michael Frolik.
“I think all year long the thought process has been Kaner and Toews but in two different lines,’’ said Quenneville. “I think there’s been some mixing along the way. All year long, we didn’t change much of the lines. In the last three rounds, there’s probably been some adjustments in that area. Kaner and Johnny seemed to click in the last four periods against LA. At the same time, they’ve been apart almost all year.’’
As for Bollig, who hadn’t played since the third game of the Western Conference quarterfinal series against Minnesota, Quenneville said there were bound to be nerves in his return, although they are hoping he can add some physicality to the mix.
“I think certain guys are excited about playing in the final,’’ said the coach. “All year long, whether the situation or the team, I think he’s pretty smart on knowing what he brings to our team and to the table. We want him to play hard, smart, within the whistles, [and] bring that element.’’
Stalberg odd man out
Bollig’s insertion into the lineup was bad news for former University of Vermont standout Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg, who had three assists in 15 postseason games, was the odd man out and was made a healthy scratch. Stalberg will be a free agent after the season . . . Another former Hockey East standout — Boston College’s Ben Smith — has yet to dress for a playoff game with the Blackhawks, but he is on the roster . . . Toews scored his first postseason goal this year in Game 5 against Detroit on May 25. He entered Wednesday ranked third among active players on the club and 10th in franchise history with 59 points in 69 playoff games. He was eighth with 39 assists, was tied for second with six winning goals, and was tied for third with 11 power-play goals.
Mayers’s presence felt
One player who has yet to suit up in the postseason is forward Jamal Mayers. Yet, when the Blackhawks trailed, 2-1, in the series against Detroit, Mayers made his presence felt in the locker room. “Jammer has been a big part of it,’’ said Quenneville. “He’s got some good experience. He’s one of those teammates that brings a little bit something extra to the game. It’s tough in a situation where you don’t get to play. But at the same time, he’s in that locker room. We have him around as one of the guys for support. He’s still doing what he can to contribute in a positive way, being a good teammate. He’s been healthy for the coaching staff as well.’’ . . . Ray Emery’s loss has been Corey Crawford’s gain. Emery, the veteran goaltender who had a spectacular regular season with a 17-1 record, a 1.94 goals-against average, and a .922 save percentage, was forced to the sidelines with a lower-body injury near the end of the season. In his stead, Crawford had racked up a 12-5 record in 17 playoff contests with a 1.74 GAA, a .935 save percentage, and a shutout . . . The Blackhawks have had very little postseason success against Boston. Prior to this year, the teams had met six times and the Blackhawks lost five of them. The teams last met in the 1978 quarterfinals which the Bruins swept, 4-0. The only Chicago win was in the first round of the 1975 playoffs.