Blackhawks: Quenneville hints at possible return for van Riemsdyk


Blackhawks: Quenneville hints at possible return for van Riemsdyk

TAMPA, Fla. – Will Trevor van Riemsdyk make his NHL return on the biggest stage of all? It’s looking like it’ll happen, and soon.

Coach Joel Quenneville said van Riemsdyk “could” play when the Blackhawks face the Tampa Bay Lighting in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night. Van Riemsdyk skated with the Blackhawks on Wednesday morning and Quenneville said entering Game 1 that the young defenseman could play in this series.

So, with van Riemsdyk not playing in an NHL game since November, what gives Quenneville the confidence that he can jump in at this point?

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“Probably the way he shocked us, surprised us when he first came in at camp this year, how well he played for us when he started the season,” said Quenneville. “You [could] look at him a lot of nights, he [was] out there against top players. He was out there late in periods. He was killing plays, making plays, reliable. He played surprisingly to a different level than we anticipated he could get to.  Obviously we missed him when he got injured.”

It would be surprising if van Riemsdyk played but let’s keep it in perspective: the Blackhawks aren’t expecting the guy to play 15-20 minutes out of the gate after not playing for so long. If he does play, perhaps, at least to start, he plays around the five-plus minutes David Rundblad and Kyle Cumiskey have logged in recent games. If he shows he can play more, then maybe Quenneville gives him more.

[MORE: Lightning not viewing Game 2 as must-win]

Here’s what we all need to remember: Quenneville trusted van Riemsdyk pretty fast in the fall. That’s probably why, even though van Riemsdyk hasn’t played for the Blackhawks since Nov. 16 – he suffered a fractured patella that night against the Dallas Stars – Quenneville would like to get him back in the lineup.


- Andrew Shaw won’t face any hearing for allegedly biting Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman in Game 1, according to a source. The two tussled in the first period of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory over the Lightning. Asked after the game if Shaw bit him, Hedman said, “It felt like it. I have a little bruise, so maybe.”

- Even if Bryan Bickell is ready to play after missing Game 1 with an upper-body injury, Quenneville may opt to leave Kris Versteeg in the lineup. Versteeg, who was back with the team on Tuesday after his wife gave birth to their first child on Monday, played just under 10 minutes. “He had good pace to his game, good energy. He hadn't played in a while, as well,” said Quenneville of Versteeg, whose last game was May 21. “It was good for him yesterday. I liked what he did, so good chance he's playing.”

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?