Michal Kempny, seven defensemen among the possibilities for Blackhawks in Game 4

Michal Kempny, seven defensemen among the possibilities for Blackhawks in Game 4

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Michal Kempny was in and out of the lineup throughout the regular season. Now, he might be playing in his first career NHL postseason game.

Kempny could be in, and the Blackhawks could go with seven defensemen when they face the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of their first-round series on Thursday night. The Blackhawks trail the Predators 3-0 and are trying to avoid being swept in a postseason series for the first time since 1993.

The Blackhawks' four-line rotation hasn't really been there through the first three games of this postseason, so bulking up on defense is the next option. Regardless of whether or not the Blackhawks go that route, however, coach Joel Quenneville said their puck possession has to be a lot better.

"Our puck decisions or strength in the puck area and relentlessness, when we have it going on all four lines, you're making them defend. But it seems like we're defending a lot more than we're accustomed to," Quenneville said. "We have to find a way to get bigger contributions from each line to get that consistency no matter if we have seven D or four lines."

Kempny played in two of the Blackhawks' final three regular-season games (at Colorado and Anaheim), but his last game prior to that was March 19. Kempny didn't know if he was in the lineup when he talked to the media, but he said that if he is, he'll be ready.

"If I would play, I would be very glad, and I would do my best, put 100 percent into the game," said Kempny through interpreter Igor Alfimov. Kempny added that it's been tough seeing where the Blackhawks are to this point.

"It's not a good feeling especially when you see your team losing, but I believe it's going to change today," he said.

If the Blackhawks go with six defensemen, there's a chance Kempny would be in for Johnny Oduya. Asked if Oduya has to be better, Quenneville once again said it's on everybody to be so, not just one player.

"Individually or collectively, from every single guy there's more. That's what we're going to need," he said. "To be our best we need everyone contributing in their own ways and being their best, and I think everyone has room for improvement."

Catch all the action from Nashville tonight on CSN and streaming live on and via the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

Projected lines and defensive pairs



Nick Schmaltz, Jonathan Toews, Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen, Marcus Kruger, Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero, Jordin Tootoo


Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny and Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell and Trevor van Riemsdyk


Corey Crawford

Injuries and illness: Michal Rozsival (facial fractures), Andrew Desjardins (lower body)



Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson
Harry Zolnierczyk, Mike Fisher, Austin Watson
Kevin Fiala, Calle Jarnkrok, James Neal
​Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons, Craig Smith


Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis
​Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban
​Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin


Pekka Rinne

Injuries and illness: Colin Wilson (lower body)

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel


Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night:
1. Shake-up on power play doesn't work.

Joel Quenneville spruced up his power play units before Wednesday's game in an effort to snap a dry spell, but the Blackhawks had no luck in that department in the second of a back-to-back.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the man advantage against an Oilers team that was ranked dead last in penalty kill percentage going into the contest, and failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 opportunity for 56 seconds in the opening minutes of the season period.

They're getting off a fair amount of shots, but the quality of them isn't there.

2. Ryan Hartman fine after brief exit due to illegal hit.

It was a physical game between the Blackhawks-Oilers, but a line was crossed at the 4:59 mark into the second period when Zack Kassian delivered a huge hit on Hartman, who went face-first into the boards.

Kassian was given a two-minute minor penalty for boarding, a call that didn't sit well with the sold-out United Center crowd of 21,444. Hartman went to the locker room to be checked out after the hit despite getting up quickly and showing no visible signs of distress, but he fortunately returned a few shifts later.

It was a dangerous hit by Kassian, and an avoidable one too. 

Quenneville admitted Hartman getting up quickly perhaps may have "helped" keep it a minor penalty and not a five-minute major, but the Blackhawks coach wasn't focused on that after seeing the result unfold.

"I saw how hard it looked," Quenneville said. "But Hartzy getting up right away, that helped. You don't even measure it anymore after that. That's the one thing you're hopeful for right off the bat."
3. Connor McDavid adds another play to highlight reel.

We're only two weeks into the season, but the 20-year-old reigning Hart Trophy winner submitted an early entry for Assist of the Year.

Late in the first period, McDavid flew from his own end into the offensive zone, made a spin-o-rama move on two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and backhanded a perfect pass to Patrick Maroon, who tapped in a goal at the doorstep.

It looks impossible to defend from anyone watching, and Keith pretty much felt the same way.

"When he gets the speed in the other end there and he's able to skate all the way down, it's tough to stop a guy especially when he's that fast," Keith said. "He's just flying through the middle. I'm just a sitting duck there at the other end of the ice waiting for him to come full speed. It's a hard play to defend against."
4. Anton Forsberg sharp again.

It's a small sample size, but the Blackhawks' backup goaltender has looked really sharp in practically every start he's had in a Chicago uniform, including preseason.

He deserved a better fate in his regular season debut last week in Toronto when he stopped 39 of 43 shots in an overtime loss, and the same applied here.

Forsberg tied a career-high with 40 saves, and seemingly got better as the game went on.

"I for sure felt more comfortable, felt like I was more used to the speed," Forsberg said. "It's tough again to lose in overtime, obviously I wanted a win and that's kind of frustrating."

"Excellent games, both games," Quenneville said of his goaltender. "Would've been nice to get him a win tonight."
5. Jordan Oesterle keeps it simple in debut.

The Blackhawks' crowded blue line has made it difficult for Quenneville to give all eight defensemen a fair amount of playing time, but Oesterle took advantage of his season debut.

He logged 15:01 of ice time, registered three shot attempts (two on goal), and blocked two shots.

"I liked him," Quenneville said. "Moves the puck."

Said Keith: "I thought he was good. Tough situation for him, he hasn't played all year in a game but I thought he played good. He's got good poise, he's smart back there."

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers


Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

Mark Letestu raised his arms in celebration, his 4-on-3 power-play goal giving the Edmonton Oilers an overtime victory over the Blackhawks. The home team could only look on in frustration, knowing that if it could have just converted one power play on Thursday it may have been a different result.

Five more power plays, five more opportunities that yielded nothing for the Blackhawks, who are now 6-for-39 (15.4 percent) in that department on the season. The 5-on-4 chances were tough enough but coach Joel Quenneville and several Blackhawks pointed specifically to the 5-on-3 the Blackhawks had for 56 seconds.

“The 5-on-3, we had some great looks around the net,” Quenneville said. “A lot of loose pucks that we just didn’t find the handle [on], we’re not anticipating or sniffing them out around the net. Some close looks but no finish.”

It’s been a recurring theme for the Blackhawks on the power play, and not just this year. Again, in the past the Blackhawks didn’t sweat any power-play issues much; their 5-on-5 scoring was usually strong. This early season, however, things have quieted on that front. On Thursday the Blackhawks cleaned up a lot of the mistakes they made against the St. Louis Blues the previous night. Anton Forsberg was terrific. The Blackhawks’ second line of Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane was looking like it did prior to Schmaltz’s injury. But the power play remained the same.

“Yeah, we had a lot of chances, we made plays to the net. We just didn’t capitalize on the power play which would’ve been the difference,” Ryan Hartman said. “We have a chance on the 5-on-3, which would’ve been nice. Just some chances all around, like [Jonathan] Toews’ shot that just squeaked by. Just some missed opportunities.”

The Blackhawks have looked at ways to get their power play going. They’ve tinkered with personnel – the latest was keeping the top two lines together for their respective power-play shifts. Usually it’s come down to the problems that have hampered them before: not enough movement, not enough shots, not enough hunger around the net for loose pucks. The final issue was especially prevalent on Thursday.

The chances were there on the power play. The home team had the bulk of the opportunities. The visiting one had the finish.

“The 5-on-3 we had some decent looks but that was a chance to get a huge goal for us,” Quenneville said. “The power play late in the second was decent, the third was ordinary, but we’ve been moving personnel around. We have the ingredients to make it work but a lot of loose pucks we didn’t get in our 5-on-5 game comparable around the net on the power play as well. We didn’t smell anything out around there.”