With Andrew Shaw set to return from injury for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Who is he going to replace? That’s just as loaded a question as, “Can the Hawks win this series?” There is no easy answer. But going to Southern California to play the next two games against the Los Angeles Kings, Joel Quenneville has to make a decision.
Quenneville thinks this is a good problem to have. The fans and the rest of the media on the other hand, might disagree. The guy Shaw has to replace might be a missing piece of the puzzle. There are names that pundits and other commentators have tossed around to suggest who might be taken out.
A few fingers are being cast towards Peter Regin. But Regin has been playing amazingly well, and was a big factor in the second round. A reason for him to be benched would be his faceoff struggles–he’s 13-31 at the dot. To be fair, the Kings dominated at the dot yesterday (which I should have mentioned in my earlier article about Game 2). I want Regin to stay in the lineup. He has the energy Shaw has but he’s got more experience and is more level-headed. He could be on the same line as Shaw.
Other names being bandied about are Brandon Bollig and Kris Versteeg. Neither of them have had particularly good postseasons. Versteeg has fallen out of favor after a heartwarming homecoming, and Bollig hasn’t played the way he did earlier in the year. Like Regin, both have been scratched. Bollig is the more tempting one of these two. His bad interference penalty led to the Kings rally.
The thing about Versteeg is that when he’s on the ice, the Hawks only average about three shots on goal. That’s not a good stat at all. It only adds on to his struggles in these playoffs, despite scoring a few vital goals. If Versteeg wants to stay on the lineup, he’ll have to find a way to improve those numbers.
For my pick, I would have to say either Versteeg or Bollig. I like how Regin has been playing and he should not be taken out while he’s playing so well. But the Hawks have themselves in a difficult position. Quenneville will have to make the right decision on who Shaw is going to replace. He’s going to bring his usual game, but it’s at the expense of someone else. Who that is will not be known for a while.