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.
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.”