Trevor van Riemsdyk ready for bigger role with Blackhawks


Trevor van Riemsdyk ready for bigger role with Blackhawks

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – This past summer was an important one for Trevor van Riemsdyk.

“I wanted to get strong, get back to where I was coming into last year’s training camp. You don’t want anything nagging you, nothing hurting, [you want] everything feeling fresh, especially at this time of the year,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a long year and hopefully I stay a little more healthy this year.”

If van Riemsdyk could have said that last sentence knocking on the wood of his locker with a horseshoe, he probably would have. The defenseman’s promising rookie season was derailed when he suffered a fractured patella last November. Just as he was coming back from that injury/surgery, he suffered a wrist injury that also needed surgery.

Nevertheless, van Riemsdyk was able to return during the Stanley Cup Final and hoist his first Cup in June.

[MORE: Patrick Kane reflects on Blackhawks training camp]

Not a bad ending, really, especially considering the two injuries.

“I was definitely good enough to play, maybe a little rusty because I hadn’t played a lot,” he said of last June. “I was thrilled to be out there and excited to be a really, really small part of us winning.”

This year, van Riemsdyk would like to be a really, really big part of the Blackhawks’ winning. He had a good start again in this training camp at the University of Notre Dame, where he played some with Duncan Keith.

“I really like playing with him,” Keith said. “He’s such a poised guy out there, always makes the smart play and is easy to play with. I think we could be good together.”

Coach Joel Quenneville would like to see van Riemsdyk play an expanded role in the Blackhawks’ defense this season.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“He’s heady defenseman,” Quenneville said. “Sees plays, kills plays defensively. He’s got a nice stick. Play recognition with the puck, as well, is good. He’s one of those guys where we used him in a lot of situations last year prior to [injuries] and threw him in the final. We have confidence in him and he has confidence in the game, the way he plays with that poise.

"I think he can help us out on the back end and we’re going to need him to be a part of it.”

Van Riemsdyk has a great opportunity this season but knows he won’t get it just because he’s here. He wants to show he deserves a chance. He wants to be a bigger part of the Blackhawks. And he wants – and needs – his health to cooperate.

“It’s kind of the same thing [as last year]: you have to prove your worth. They’re not just going to hand you a role. I have to show I can handle any sort of work load they want to give me,” van Riemsdyk said. “I’m excited for the year coming up and to hopefully stay healthy the whole year.”

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?