Blackhawks: van Riemsdyk's 'whirlwind' season ends on high note


Blackhawks: van Riemsdyk's 'whirlwind' season ends on high note

Trevor van Riemsdyk had the same broad smile on his face at the Blackhawks’ exit interviews as he had in training camp back in September.

The 23-year-old defenseman went through the highs and lows of his first professional season, from making the team and earning coach Joel Quenneville’s trust to suffering two devastating injuries, first to his knee and then to his wrist. Yet there he was, playing in the Blackhawks’ last Stanley Cup Final games. Now van Riemsdyk will have his day with the Cup and then spend the summer training to see what he can bring to the Blackhawks in his second year.

[MORE: For champion Blackhawks, it was all about the journey]

Van Riemsdyk got to be part of the Blackhawks’ third Cup of the past six seasons on Monday and took in everything from the Wrigley Field visit to the Soldier Field rally. It was a happy ending for a player who had to keep his chin up through most of his injury-riddled season.

“Hanging with the family, the team, getting to go to Wrigley with the Cup, there was a lot of fun,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s definitely been a whirlwind.”

Van Riemsdyk was a surprise out of last season’s training camp. This year, he won’t be. The Blackhawks got a glimpse of what he could do before he was hurt, and Quenneville liked what he saw. As long as all goes well, van Riemsdyk should have a great opportunity this fall.

“Yeah, that’s the goal, to have a good summer, to get all these injuries and stuff taken care of 100 percent and come back even stronger than I was at the start of this year,” he said. “It’ll be a fun training camp to come and show them what I can do and go from there.”

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Will van Riemsdyk have an even bigger opportunity this fall? He was slotted in the 5-6 spots last year, and his presence made the loss of Nick Leddy easier to take. The Blackhawks’ defensive depth, however, could be a lot different in a few months. The Blackhawks probably won’t be able to re-sign Johnny Oduya. Who knows if Michal Rozsival, another free agent, re-signs.

Van Riemsdyk isn’t reading too much into a roster that is undecided. He broke through in a season he wasn’t expected to be on the radar. He’ll take advantage of whatever comes his way next fall.

“It’s exciting to look at that and see how some things may fall,” van Riemsdyk said. “You never know, but it’s definitely exciting to know your role may be expanded. But it’s up to me to show them I can handle that and deserve more responsibility.”

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?