Antoine Vermette wasn’t in the most talkative mood on Friday.
The usually affable forward was still stinging from his benching in Game 3, when coach Joel Quenneville opted to use “fresh legs,” sitting Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen.
So did Vermette feel tired after the triple-overtime Game 2?
Quenneville’s attempt to shake things up/get fresher legs into the lineup didn’t have the desired effect in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Kris Versteeg played about 13 1Ž2 minutes, Joakim Nordstrom played about seven and the fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw, which had been so effective lately, was broken up to adjust to the changes – Shaw centered the third line in Vermette’s place.
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Now Quenneville could put Vermette and Teravainen back in on Saturday, when the Blackhawks host the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. It was an interesting turn of events when the two sat for Game 3, both having played solid through the start of this series.
“When we look at making decision we always think going into yesterday’s game was going to be our most challenging game, energy-wise,” Quenneville said. “Through a tough game 2 we felt using our depth could help us, get us some speed. As it turned out, we didn’t win the game. That’s where we’re at.”
Vermette’s still struggling on offense – he has just one goal and one assist in the postseason, and nothing since May 1. But he’s winning face-offs, something the Blackhawks wanted when they acquired him. His loss was doublyfelt in the face-off circle on Tuesday when Marcus Kruger took no face-offs at all. Quenneville said Kruger, “will be better,” in Game 4. Asked if Kruger had an upper- or lower-body injury, Quenneville hesitated a second and said, “there’s no injury.”
But back to Vermette, who thought he had a good Game 2.
“I was playing well there. So, obviously it came as a surprise and a disappointment,” Vermette said. “I’m not going to lie. I was not happy with that, but my job is to be ready whenever I have a chance to be in the lineup, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The 20-year-old Teravainen said, “I felt all right. Nothing bad,” following the triple-overtime game. As with previous times he’s been taken out of the lineup, Teravainen said he just focuses on practices until he plays again.
“I think it’s normal for a young player. Sometimes I’m not in and sometimes I’m playing,” Teravainen said. “But, of course, I want to work hard for to get the chance to play every game. Right now when I’m not in, I have to work even harder in practice and get back.”
The lineup changes were strange and obviously left two players none too happy. Quenneville said both Vermette and Teravainen “could” play in Game 4, which usually means “yes” in what we refer to as Q-speak. Quenneville thought the changes would bring some energy after a very lengthy Game 2. It really didn’t.
“When we look at making decision we always think going into yesterday’s game was going to be our most challenging game, energy-wise,” he said. “Through a tough game 2 we felt using our depth could help us, get us some speed. as it turned out, we didn’t win the game. That’s where we’re at.”