Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen will be back in the lineup, as expected, when the Blackhawks host the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals tonight.
Vermette and Teravainen were benched in Game 3 but coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday that the two “could” play in tonight’s game. The two were in their usual spots in this morning’s line rushes, on the third line with Patrick Sharp.
“I just think there were some good stretches in Game 2, and that line can be a factor offensively,” Quenneville said. “Defensively they’ve been reliable as well. Just [bring] some pace, energy across the board. That four-line rotation that we felt was our best in Game 2 is what we’re looking for.”
For as much of a brouhaha the lineup story line became, the Blackhawks’ struggles in certain areas are why they lost Game 3. And they they need to improve in those facets if they want to win Game 4. The power play went 0-for-5 and the Blackhawks didn’t bug Frederik Andersen near enough, remaining on the perimeter too much – the Ducks blocked 27 Blackhawks shots.
“The effort must be there, but it’s not just about effort. We try to find the right positioning, the right timing and be in the right spot,” Marian Hossa said of opening up shooting lanes. “So the unit of five has to be on the same page.”
Also, some of the Blackhawks’ top players have been too quiet offensively. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp haven’t scored goals since May 3 (against the Minnesota Wild). Brandon Saad’s last goal came May 1 against the Wild. Bryan Bickell has just five assists through the entire postseason.
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The Blackhawks are labeling this one a must-win, as they do just about every game they play this time of year. But they certainly don’t want to go back to Anaheim down 3-1 in this best-of-seven series.
“Whenever we get into a tough spot, or a spot where we feel overly comfortable on the other side of the spectrum, that’s when that experience comes into play. I guess this’ll be one of those situations. We don’t want them to get too comfortable, too far ahead in this series,” Toews said. “We know there is still another level we get to, and we’re working to get there. We just have to have fun and embrace it. We’ve got the guys in here who can do the job.”
Marcus Kruger didn’t take any face-offs in Game 3 but Quenneville said he expects Kruger to take some tonight. Kruger said he’s not suffering from any injury.