Antoine Vermette will be back in the lineup and Andrew Desjardins could, too, when the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their first-round series this afternoon.
Coach Joel Quenneville said there would likely be lineup changes entering this game, and confirmed that with the Vermette and Desjardins news. Vermette, who the Blackhawks acquired for defenseman Klas Dahlbeck and a first-round pick in this year’s draft from Arizona, was a healthy scratch in Games 1 and 2.
“He’s worked hard here,” Quenneville said of Vermette. “He’s practiced well. I think he’s disappointed he didn’t get to start [the series]. He did everything he could to prepare to get a chance to get in there. Things changed quickly in our business. I expect him to play a strong game and be excited about the chance to play.”
Who comes out of the lineup is unknown. Quenneville wasn’t divulging that so line and defensive combos during warm-ups should reveal the scratches.
Scott Darling will get his first NHL postseason start today. Quenneville said he didn’t say anything specific to Darling, who has handled a lot of pressure situations, including his relief performance in Game 1, well.
“We threw him to the wolves the other day in Game 1 and what a tremendous response we got. So I don’t think [this] is any different,” Quenneville said. “Get in there, do your thing, do what you’ve done all year. Be comfortable and confident.”
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Meanwhile, the Predators will be without defenseman Shea Weber, who sustained a lower-body injury in Game 2 and did not travel to Chicago. Quenneville said the Blackhawks shouldn’t change their approach or think they get a big advantage because Weber’s gone. The Predators played tremendous hockey in Weber’s absence the second half of Game 2.
“They have some defense that’s pretty mobile, pretty comparable to him. One of their strengths is depth on the back end,” Quenneville said. “We can’t say, ‘This is what we can do differently,’ because this guy’s in the lineup.”