Blackhawks: Kyle Cumiskey to play in Game 2 vs. Ducks


Blackhawks: Kyle Cumiskey to play in Game 2 vs. Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. – With David Rundblad having a rough day in his first career postseason game, there was a chance the Blackhawks would change things up defensively for Game 2.

Enter Kyle Cumiskey.

It looks like Cumiskey will play on Tuesday night when the Blackhawks face the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. It’s an opportunity for Cumiskey, who was recalled – with Antti Raanta – right before the playoffs began. He was paired with Johnny Oduya during Monday’s practice drills.

“He'll be excited about getting in the lineup,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He brings some speed, some quickness. I think he defends with his quickness in the puck area. I think offensively he's got some pace to his game as well. It will be a good opportunity for him to come in and help us and bring some quickness to our team.”

[MORE: Blackhawks' defensive depth tested already in Game 1 vs. Ducks]

It’ll also be another defenseman with little postseason experience getting thrown in on a big stage. The 28-year-old Cumiskey has six NHL playoff games under his belt, and those were back in 2009-10 with the Colorado Avalanche.

And Cumiskey, like Rundblad, enters the lineup after not playing for a while. While he played in Rockford before being recalled in mid-April, Cumiskey’s last game with the Blackhawks was Feb. 27 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Me and David, we haven’t played in a month. It’s a tough situation to get thrown into,” Cumiskey said. “It’ll be tough for me too; I just have to try to make the most of it.”

When Michal Rozsival suffered his fractured ankle earlier this month, the Blackhawks knew their defensive depth was going to be tested. Rundblad got the call for the start of this series and had a rough Game 1. Two of his passes/attempted clears ended up on Ducks players’ sticks, and not long after both the Ducks scored.

“Yesterday I wasn’t quick enough or hard enough, and those are the two things you have to do better if you’re going to play,” said Rundblad. “It’s the conference final [and] two good teams. It’s pretty tough to be up there. It’s a tough team to play against. But of course it was a little nervousness. That’s kind of natural.”

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Meanwhile, Kimmo Timonen played just over five minutes in Game 1. The veteran said it’s difficult to get into a rhythm when playing so sparingly.

“It is tough, but once you go out there you try to do your job as good as possible and not make mistakes,” he said. “I don’t want to go in there, play five minutes and then make a ton of mistakes. Whatever the role is, I’m going to do it. It’s not the best one, and I’ve never done it before, but I guess I had to play 40 years to see that.”

Quenneville said Timonen has “a valid point.”

“I think the more you play, the more effective you're in the game. You seem to have more confidence in a lot of areas,” Quenneville said. “I thought he started the game well yesterday. Got a little bit deeper in the game [he] didn't play much. But I didn't mind his game. We'll see how we'll go going forward. I thought he was all right yesterday.”

Be it Timonen playing a few more minutes or Cumiskey stepping in and doing that, the Blackhawks want to solidify things on their defense. Whether or not they rely on any Rockford players yet is undetermined; the Blackhawks recalled four IceHogs, including defensemen Ville Pokka and Viktor Svedberg on Monday afternoon. But for now it’s Cumiskey, who’s aware of the stage on which he’s getting this opportunity. It’ll be anxious but he’s ready to give it a shot.

“I’ll feel a little pressure for sure. It’s a huge game, you don’t want to make mistakes out there,” Cumiskey said. “At the same time you have to keep it in the back of your mind to stay relaxed, go out there and play your game.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'


Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?