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Blackhawks: Kris Versteeg rested entering Game 2

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Blackhawks: Kris Versteeg rested entering Game 2

TAMPA, Fla. – Kris Versteeg looked like a happy man as he talked about his wife and child, who are doing very well back home.

“I guess he’s a handful right now, but it’s exciting,” said Versteeg with a big smile on his face. “Lot of FaceTime going on.”

Versteeg is also a more rested man after a few days in Tampa. That’s good, because it looks like he’ll be in the lineup again tonight when the Blackhawks face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

[MORE: Vermette coming up big for Blackhawks]

The Blackhawks forward was coming off a hectic but happy few days on Wednesday, when he played for the first time since Game 3 of the Western Conference final. He was set to travel to Tampa with the team on Monday but headed to Toronto instead, where he and his wife welcomed their first child, a son they named Jaxson. Versteeg joined the team here on Tuesday and, substituting for Bryan Bickell, who was a late scratch, played about 9 1/2 minutes in Game 1.

Versteeg should be fresher coming into tonight’s game.

“Yeah, the last couple of days it was nice to get a rest, let the body heal and get ready to go for the next game,” he said following Saturday morning’s skate. “That was a lot of adrenaline pumping (on Wednesday), especially getting through that game. It’ll be good to settle in, hopefully play a good game and help out the team any way I can.”

UPDATES

-- Informed that Tampa Bay forward Cedric Paquette was going to chirp him in Game 2, Jonathan Toews said, “"He'd have big shoes to fill following Ryan Kesler. I'm looking forward to hearing some of that."

-- Corey Crawford and Brad Richards did not skate on Saturday morning. Coach Joel Quenneville said both are fine and will play tonight.

-- The Blackhawks will go with the same six defensemen as in Game 1.

-- Bryan Bickell (upper body) looks to be a scratch again tonight.

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

The Blackhawks recalled No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach from his AHL conditioning stint on Friday night after he appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs. He missed the first week of training camp with a concussion and the organization wanted him to get a taste of the pro action and back up to speed after not playing in any preseason games, either.

"I enjoyed the experience there," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."

Whether Dach makes his NHL debut on Sunday against the Washington Capitals won't be revealed by head coach Jeremy Colliton until after morning skate on Sunday. But where does he fit into the lineup going forward?

The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 in their past three games and aren't necessarily looking to shake up their rotation, even though they're still searching for consistency on all four lines.

The easy answer is for Dach to slide into a third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, but the trio of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad has undoubtedly been the most consistent for the Blackhawks this season. And we saw in the home opener what happened when they were separated. 

The Blackhawks held an optional practice on Saturday morning and didn't run through line rushes, but before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he took several spins on the first line with Toews and alternated with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat. It's possible Dach starts on the wing, where he can play top-six minutes and not have as much responsibility as a center would.

"I've played wing in previous years, so it's not something that's new to me," Dach said. "At the same time I'm open-minded to just getting into the lineup and helping the team win."

The Blackhawks can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

"As a kid you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach said. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis welcome Nick Gismondi into the fold before discussing Friday's win over Columbus. Robin Lehner played stellar and is forming quite a tandem in net with Corey Crawford (4:10), while the DeBrincat/Kane connection is alive and well (6:10), and the Blackhawks' struggles at even strength continued (12:10). Then, the guys react to the breaking news of Kirby Dach's recall from Rockford and discuss where he might fit into this lineup (15:10).

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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