According to CBC Sports on Wednesday, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville decided to break up his number one defensive unit of Canadian Olympic gold medalists Duncan Keith of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Brent Seabrook of Richmond, British Columbia. The move paid off as the Blackhawks went on to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in double overtime and force game six in the National Hockey League's Western Conference Finals.
This is not to say that Seabrook and Keith are not elite defensemen. Quite the contrary. The two are two of the top ten defensemen (maybe even top five) in the entire National Hockey League. However, Quenneville, who coached the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship in 2010 and 2013, utilized his superior wisdom and belived it would be in the best interests of the hockey club if Keith played with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Seabrook played with Nick Leddy.
The move by Quenneville had instant impact as Seabrook opened the scoring from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews with a power play goal only 1:13 into the hockey game. The Kings came back however and took the lead before Ben Smith tied the game for Chicago and Michal Handzus scored the overtime winner. It should also be noted that Keith and Seabrook were both a -1.
Now the question lies if Quenneville will keep his defensive pairings for game six or go back to the defensive pairings that he has used for most of the season? In any event, it is not concrete in stone that Keith, who won a gold medal for Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, will play together with Seabrook, who won a gold medal for Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in game six Sunday night in Los Angeles.
What we do know is that whoever wins the Western Conference Final, a series that the Kings are currently leading 3-2, will play the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. On Thursday, Dominic Moore scored the game winning goal and Henrik Lundqvist recorded the shutout as the Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 to win the Eastern Conference Final four games to two.