Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Trevor van Riemsdyk 'real close' to returning

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Blackhawks: Trevor van Riemsdyk 'real close' to returning

TAMPA, Fla. – Trevor van Riemsdyk will not play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final but there’s a good chance he’ll play at some point in this series.

Van Riemsdyk, who hasn’t played in an NHL game since November, is “real close” and could get into the lineup during against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Van Riemsdyk had an outside chance of getting into the Western Conference Final but it never materialized. David Rundblad and Kyle Cumiskey have been the Blackhawks’ fifth and sixth defensemen the past two games.

[MORE: Five storylines to follow during Blackhawks-Lightning series]

While van Riemsdyk played with the Rockford IceHogs this past spring, he hasn’t been part of the Blackhawks’ lineup since mid-November. He suffered a fractured patella against the Dallas Stars and, after coming back from that, suffered a wrist injury in late March with Rockford.

Despite van Riemsdyk’s lack of play, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville has confidence in the young defenseman if he does end up playing against the Lightning.

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“We saw first-hand what he was able to do this year. He surprised us all with how well he played, how well he thought the game and how effective and efficient he is,” Quenneville said. “We’ve been watching him, skating him in practice. One of his strengths is his reads. He’s positionally aware and [has good] decision making with the puck. He has a lot of attribute that could help our team. He came on the scene rather fast. We have a lot of confidence and trust with him.”

BRIEFLY

-Kris Versteeg rejoined the Blackhawks on Tuesday after he and his wife welcomed their first child, a boy they named Jaxson James. The last few days have understandably been a whirlwind, but a happy whirlwind, for Versteeg. “I kind of compared it, in a different way, when you win a Stanley Cup. It’s almost like you’re in shock. You can’t really understand what’s going on, can’t comprehend it until you step back,” Versteeg said. “But four or five hours, when you got to finally hold him it was pretty remarkable. It was exciting and tough to leave the guy.”

-If Wednesday's lines at morning skate were any indication, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will at least start Game 1 together. How long it remains that way is uncertain. “Last two games, they were so good together, it’s tough to get them apart now,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how the game goes matchup-wise. Certainly have some balance if you get them apart. Together, they were pretty dynamic the last two games.”

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

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AP

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

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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?