Blackhawks rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist was a healthy scratch for Game 2 in the first-round playoff series with the Vegas Golden Knights and it sounds like the night off might have done some good for the 20-year-old blueliner, who was back in for Game 3 and the Hawks' 3-1 Game 4 win to stay alive in the series on Sunday. "Yeah, I think it was good for me to get a game off there," Boqvist said on a Zoom call with media on Monday from Edmonton. "I wasn't playing really good. [Got] some rest and I think it was good for the team as well. They played a really good game. It was different to see from up there. It seems so speedy down there, but from up there it's a little bit different so I think it was pretty good. But we got a big Game 5."
Boqvist, Chicago's No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, was able to reflect on what's been missing in his game during the postseason.
"Yeah, I think gap and everything like that. I watched my shifts with the D coach as well, so you kind of go into your head and think what you can do better like gap control, [be] closer to your guy in the D zone, jump in the play more, get more confident with the puck and stuff. I always want to do more out there. I think I can next level my game as well and help the team win every play, so I think I can do better."
Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton scratched the young Hawks defenseman after Game 1 of the series against the Knights in Which Boqvist logged a +/- rating of -2 and 17:22 of ice time, his high for the postseason. Adam played in all four qualifying round games against the Oilers.
Overall, Boqvist's defense hasn't been bad. It wasn't great in Game 1 vs. the Knights, he was on the ice for three shots for and nine against. But, Adam was a +1 in Game 4 vs. Edmonton, a -1 in Game 3 vs. Vegas and 0 in Game 4 vs. Vegas. The bigger issue is that he's a smooth-skating defenseman with a scoring touch who doesn't have a shot on net after Game 2 of the qualifying round series against the Oilers, and no points yet in his first career postseason.
"He just needed a break," Colliton said of scratching Boqvist. "It’s a tough level in the playoffs, we’re playing an excellent team. We think he can make a few more plays. Skilled offensive defenseman and we want him playing on his offensive instincts and we feel he can give us more. He did do that in the two games since he was out. And he’s a young player and just him being in this environment is great for him. But we’re happy with him, and he’s going to continue to get better."
Adam is learning how to contribute while adjusting on the fly to playoff hockey against a Stanley Cup-caliber team like the Golden Knights.
"Obviously it’s a lot different from [the] regular season, the speed, everything. You got to think quicker and stuff," Boqvist said. "It’s a lot of new experiences for me. I’m just trying to take everything in and learn."
The defenseman playing with more confidence and putting some pucks on net in Game 5 on Tuesday could definitely help the Hawks, down 3-1 to the Knights, prolong the best-of-seven series and make an admirable postseason run all the more interesting