TAMPA, Fla. – Trevor van Riemsdyk is available to play but it sounds like, for at least one more game, he won’t.
Van Riemsdyk practiced on Friday but coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will “probably keep the same group on the back end” in Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
It was difficult to guess van Riemsdyk’s status based on practice; Duncan Keith was resting on Friday, so defensive pairings weren’t set. Marcus Kruger was also off Friday just to rest.
As for van Riemsdyk, he’s prepared to play if he ends up doing so.
“I feel good,” he said. “The last few days I’m getting better and better, getting more comfortable being out there. I just have to be prepared and, when my number’s called, be ready.”
The biggest question would be how van Riemsdyk would handle the speed of the NHL game, which he hasn’t played since November. The defenseman isn’t too concerned about being thrown into the fray again at this point.
“I wouldn’t say worried. It’d be an exciting challenge to get out there after being out for so long,” he said. “Obviously we have a great group in there that keeps your confidence up. They’ve all helped along the way.”
Something is ailing Bryan Bickell but the forward isn’t sure what it is.
Bickell said he took and cleared concussion tests but, as of Friday afternoon, it sounds like he’s still fighting something.
“I don’t know exactly what it is,” said Bickell, who passed the test prior to Game 1 but did not play. “It’s something that comes and goes. It could come after I’m done talking to you. I don’t know. The verdict of why it happened or what caused it, it’s there. Just taking it day by day right now.
“We did all those concussion tests and everything was clear. It’s just how I feel,” Bickell continued. “I want to help out the team and I don’t want to hurt that team. I’m just taking it day by day.”
Quenneville, when asked about Bickell passing a concussion test, said, “he passed the concussion test because he never had one.” Quenneville added that he wasn’t “getting into the injury.” Quenneville said after Game 1 that Bickell missed that contest with an upper-body injury.
Even if Bickell’s healed from what’s ailing him, it’s likely the Blackhawks stay with their Game 1 lineup on Saturday night. That means Kris Versteeg will play, taking Bickell’s spot on the second line with Brad Richards and Marian Hossa. Quenneville liked Versteeg’s outing on Wednesday.
“We get him like that, being comfortable and confident, playing with some pace, he can be really effective for us,” Quenneville said of Versteeg. “I thought he had a good first game. We're looking for some progression.”
BITE OR NO BITE?
Andrew Shaw allegedly bit Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman on Wednesday. Shaw, for whom there will be no disciplinary hearing on the matter, wouldn’t divulge much regarding the incident, which happened during a first-period scrum in Game 1.
“I’m not going to get into details,” Shaw said. “We’re here to focus on the next game, and, you know, hockey.”
Hedman hit Patrick Kane after the whistle blew in the first period, and Shaw went after Hedman. Not long after the scrum, video showed Hedman on the bench appearing to say, “he bit me” to a teammate. After the game he said he wasn’t sure – “it felt like it. I have a little bruise, so maybe,” he said.
By Friday, Hedman was ready to put it in the past.
“I’m not going to comment on that anymore,” he said. “Things happen during games. I’ll leave it at that.”