Trevor van Riemsdyk didn’t head into Thursday night’s game expecting to log a career-high in minutes.
The young defenseman knew, as did the rest of the Blackhawks, that everyone had to bring a little bit more in Duncan Keith’s absence. And by the end of the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, van Riemsdyk had definitely brought more.
Van Riemsdyk played a career-high 22 minutes, 34 seconds, recording three shots on goal, a takeaway and a blocked shot. Van Riemsdyk played on the power play as well as penalty kill and helped the Blackhawks fill the very large void sans Keith.
“It’s nice to come in and be able to play that many minutes, to try to contribute in any way possible,” van Riemsdyk said following Friday’s practice. “When they give you those minutes you have to make the most of them. They’re not just going to hand them out to you. So when they show that trust in you, you really have to show them it’s well deserved.”
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Coach Joel Quenneville showed that trust in van Riemsdyk pretty early last season, not long after van Riemsdyk leapfrogged other prospective defensemen to earn a roster spot out of training camp.
“You see him in situations where you feel he can take on a little bit more responsibility, not only big minutes but matchup minutes are a challenge as well. But we’re comfortable with him against top guys and I liked a lot of things about his game,” Quenneville said. “I liked him joining the attack; great patience and play recognition with the puck. It was a good start in a much bigger role and a big challenge for him and I liked the response.”
Jonathan Toews said van Riemsdyk and new partner Nicklas Hjalmarsson, who’s playing on the left side again, proved a good pair on Thursday.
“They were both making great plays, getting us the puck with speed in the D and in the neutral zone,” Toews said. “For Riemer, we talk about guys having to step up, assume more responsibility given the fact we’re missing Duncan, he’s going to be one of those guys. So it’s nice to see him play with that confidence. He’s shown a lot of poise and patience with the puck and I think that’s a great skill to have, especially earlier in your career when you have to play a lot of games.”
Patrick Kane said van Riemsdyk usually doesn’t seem fazed by anything, on or off the ice.
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“He’s one of those defensemen you get on the ice with, you look forward to the shift because you know you’ll have a chance to either catch a pass in full stride or he’s going to create something offensively. And it seems like they like what he’s doing back in the defensive end, which is probably even more important,” Kane said. “You knew some guys were going to get more responsibility, more ice time. It looked like he stepped up to the plate and answered the bell last night.”
Van Riemsdyk isn’t trying to fill Keith’s shoes. There aren’t many who can do that – “not one human can do all the things he does out there,” van Riemsdyk said. But van Riemsdyk being himself was a big help for the Blackhawks on Thursday night and they’ll need his and others’ help even more these next few weeks.
“[Keith] is the best in the world; he does everything. Every time he’s on the ice you notice him. He’s doing something positive,” van Riemsdyk said. “My goal is to play as well as I can, to be as prepared as I can and play as smart as I can out there to try and help our team win.”
- Marian Hossa did not practice on Friday. Quenneville said Hossa is fine. He’s expected to play vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.'
- Corey Crawford will start vs. Tampa Bay.