Blackhawks: Left or right, Trevor van Riemsdyk rolls with changes


Blackhawks: Left or right, Trevor van Riemsdyk rolls with changes

Trevor van Riemsdyk isn’t fazed about switching from left to right and back again on defense.

The defenseman did the same thing at the University of New Hampshire, going from his natural right side to the left as the team needed. It got to be a typical part of his game. With the Blackhawks, it still is.

“Whatever they need,” van Riemsdyk said. “Whether you have a bunch of lefties or righties in the lineup or the matchups and pairings they want to go with. You just have to be ready, have to be able to play either side, know when you’re going out there what side you’re supposed to be on, play accordingly.”

Van Riemsdyk has done plenty of moving around the lineup for the Blackhawks this season, having several different defensive partners and playing on the right and left sides. For a team that loves a versatile player, van Riemsdyk has fit in various ways.

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“It’s good having that flexibility on the back end. It gives you a lot of options in games,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He can play both sides, play with anybody, can play all situations and can kill penalties. He’s been helpful in a lot of ways. We’re going to need him to continue to play and get better as we go along.”

Van Riemsdyk has played with everyone at some point this season. He started the preseason with Duncan Keith. Then he was with Niklas Hjalmarsson, then Brent Seabrook and then Michal Rozsival and former Blackhawks Trevor Daley and Rob Scuderi and ... you get the picture. Part of it has been the Blackhawks looking for the right combinations on defense. Some defensemen — Keith and Seabrook — stay on their usual sides.

Van Riemsdyk has been one who’s gone back and forth, but his college days have prepped him for this. As a freshman at UNH, van Riemsdyk played left and right side. He spent of his sophomore season on the left and then was back on the right for his junior year. So he’s used to this.

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And his partners with the Blackhawks are usually pretty good.

“Yeah, it’s not too bad. Looking at the guys I get to play with, whether it’s Duncs, Seabs for a little bit, Hammer at the start of the year ... they’re all great players and they make it easy to play with them,” van Riemsdyk said. “Everyone’s pretty well aware of what we’re trying to do on the ice, so it’s not too challenging when you’re switching guys up because you have so many guys who are such great players. They make it easy for me.”

What’s also helped van Riemsdyk is a full, healthy season. He hasn’t had one of those in a while. He suffered a fractured ankle during his junior season at UNH, then a fractured kneecap and wrist injury, both of which required surgery, last season with the Blackhawks. Van Riemsyk has had his ups and downs this season, and his shifts from left to right. But the one constant has been his health, which has given him a chance to have a complete season.

“Yeah, it’s been nice,” he said. “Obviously I’ve been a little bit by the injury bug there the last little bit but it’s definitely nice to stay healthy and be here on a night-to-night basis and helping the team in whatever way I can.” 

Report: Tommy Hawk attacked at the United Center


Report: Tommy Hawk attacked at the United Center

According to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times, the Blackhawks organization dealt with a disturbance off the ice during their 4-3 loss on Friday night to the Winnipeg Jets.

According to authorities, mascot ‘Tommy Hawk’ was attacked by a male fan around 11:15 PM on the United Center concourse.

A video of the incident was spreading on social media and the Chicago Police have since confirmed the disturbance.

No one is in custody as of Saturday evening, though there is a physical description of the alleged attacker.  

A Blackhawks spokesman gave this statement:

We are gathering the facts and will have no further comment at this time, pending our investigation.

Four takeaways: Jets win in overtime, but Blackhawks building momentum

Four takeaways: Jets win in overtime, but Blackhawks building momentum

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Friday:

1. Top guns lead the charge for Jets

The Jets are one of the best teams in the NHL because they're absolutely loaded up front and get their scoring from everywhere. The Blackhawks know this of their Central Division foes and after seeing them for the third time in two weeks.

On Nov. 29, it was Nikolaj Ehlers who had a hat trick. On Tuesday, Kyle Connor had a two-goal night. On Friday, it was Mark Scheifele (two goals, one assist) and Blake Wheeler (three assists) leading the way for the Jets with three-point efforts. The top guys have been a thorn in the Blackhawks' side this season, with Scheifele scoring the game-winner 50 seconds into overtime for their third victory against Chicago in 15 days.

"You can play really well against them for 58 minutes, but it only takes just an instant and then it’s in the back of your net," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "That’s something that we gotta learn, to play against those guys and in those situations if you’re going to be able to go head-to-head. A lot of it we were really good, we had let downs and it made it tough for us. But we did a lot of good things."

2. Last-minute goals

In all three periods, there were last-minute goals that changed the flow of the game. 

After the Jets took a 1-0 lead in the first period, Jonathan Toews responded for the Blackhawks with 10.2 seconds left to even it at 1-1. In the second, Mathieu Perreault scored on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box with 18 seconds remaining to put the Jets back in front 3-2. And then in the third, Erik Gustafsson tied it at 3-3 with 7.5 left to force overtime. 

"It's tough after a loss in overtime, but it felt good," said Gustafsson, who missed the previous two games with an illness. "I didn't know it was 7 seconds left, but it was good to see it go in. ... It was good to be back here with the team, too. I wasn't in the last game. We came out hard the first period and I think we played a solid 60 minutes. Tough break in the overtime."

3. Captain Consistency

Toews usually produces on the scoresheet in spurts. Historically, he'll go through stretches where his offense dries up for several games in a row. And then he'll follow that up by getting really hot. This season has been different.

The Blackhawks captain's longest point drought this year is three games. After scoring two more goals, his season total is up to 16 through 34 games, taking over the team lead from Patrick Kane. He had 20 goals in 74 games last season, showing just how far he's come from a year ago.

Toews is on pace to finish with a career-high 39 goals — his current personal best is 34, set in 2008-09. The Blackhawks need him to continue producing at that rate, and there's no reason he can't.

"Our line played well and created a lot of chances," Toews said. "If it's me scoring or [Dominik Kahun] or [Brandon Saad], it doesn't really matter. As long as we're making plays when we've got the puck out there, we're happy about that."

4. Jets power play stays hot

The best advice when you play the Jets: Stay out of the penalty box. Because they'll make you pay.

Entering Friday, they had the top-ranked power play with a 30.4 percent success rate. The Blackhawks gave them three opportunities and they cashed in on one, giving them eight power-play goals on 17 attempts in their past four games (47.1 percent conversation rate). They also improved to 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) in three games against the Blackhawks.

To the Blackhawks' credit, they killed off two key penalties in the third period before the first TV timeout and it allowed them to keep it a one-goal game and ultimately force overtime by scoring the next goal.

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