Blackhawks

Game 2: TVR waits, Bryan Bickell heals for Blackhawks

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Game 2: TVR waits, Bryan Bickell heals for Blackhawks

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.

[RELATED: Lightning not looking at Game 2 as a must-win]

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.”

BICKELL AILING

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.”

[MORE: Teuvo making impact as confidence grows in Stanley Cup Final]

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.”

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

Kirby Dach made his pro debut on Saturday, but it wasn't with the Blackhawks.

The No. 3 overall pick from this past June was activated from his injured/non-roster designation and assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes and jumped right into the lineup. He didn't appear in any NHL preseason games because he was under the league's concussion protocol during training camp.

In his season debut, Dach recorded two shots on goal and had a minus-1 rating in a 4-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He centered the fourth line with Brandon Hagel and Nick Moutrey.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton discussed the decision to send Dach to Rockford after Saturday's game against the Winnipeg Jets, and it sounds like the organization remains committed to giving him a look at the NHL level whenever his conditioning stint is over.

"He hasn't played in a long time," Colliton said. "Missed training camp, missed the exhibition season. We think he can help us so we're trying to set him up, give him the best opportunity so when he does get the chance here he'll be as ready as he can be. It's a good league down there and a chance for him to get his feet wet against men. And I think he's been getting better and better in his practice time here with us. So I'm excited. Hopefully, he can gain confidence down there and then be ready to help us."

Because he's not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season due to Canadian Hockey League rules, Dach's conditioning stint in Rockford can last up to 14 days, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, before the Blackhawks are forced to either recall him or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League.

Rockford has four more games over that span, with its next one on Monday against the Laval Rocket at BMO Harris Bank Center.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Saturday:

1. Squandering a two-goal lead

For the second straight home game, the Blackhawks jumped out in front and even built an early cushion by scoring the first two goals in the opening frame. But they allowed the Jets to score three unanswered, including the overtime winner by Mark Scheifele, to remain winless on the season (0-2-1).

"We did a good job in the first and they took it to us in the second," said Brandon Saad, who scored a shorthanded goal. "Lehnny made some big saves and the third was kind of even. But we definitely had chances to close it out and we didn’t. At least we got a point and we have to move on from it."

2. Another lackluster second period

If there's one thing you can point to that's been a trend in all three games so far, it's that the Blackhawks have been lackluster in the second period. And it's difficult to pinpoint why.

In the middle frame, the Blackhawks have 10 scoring chances for and 35 against at 5-on-5, two high-danger chances for and 10 against at 5-on-5 and a minus-19 shot differential, according to Natural Stat Trick. That's an area of the game they're trying to clean up and has been the downfall to their attempts of putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"Obviously it's been three in a row where we haven't been very good in the second period and to me that's where you show how good you are," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The best teams, they dominate the second period, so it's a point of emphasis for us. We'd like to control the tempo of the game and control the territory, out-chance the other team. That's where you show how good you are, so we're not close to where we want to be in that area."

3. Robin Lehner's debut

After going two weeks without game action, the Blackhawks gave the nod to Lehner, who went into Saturday with a 4-0-0 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in five career games against the Jets. He took the loss, but certainly did his part to deserve a win.

In regulation, Lehner stopped 30 of 32 shots for a save percentage of .938. The first goal was on the power play, the second came at 5-on-5 when Andrew Copp found himself all alone in front and the third was in overtime during 3-on-3 action. His 5-on-5 save percentage was .962, which will definitely work.

"I felt good," Lehner said. "I felt like I saw the puck well. I thought rebound control was good. Again, the first one is unfortunate, it squeaks through. But I was where I wanted to be in position and somehow it goes in. Gotta try to clean that up. And the third goal, it just dove on me. He missed his shot. It’s unfortunate. But I thought I made some good saves and felt comfortable. We got a point, which is something, but should’ve got a win today."

4. Penalty kill shows improvement

The Blackhawks gave up a power-play goal for the third consecutive contest, but this was close to being a perfect night for the penalty kill. They went 3-for-4 and gave up only four shots on goal in the 7:38 of shorthanded time.

On the first Jets power play of the night, Saad scored a shorthanded goal for his first of the season and the Blackhawks later generated two more scoring chances before the two minutes expired.

The power-play goal against should've been stopped by Lehner but he did everything right and had the shortside sealed, the puck just found a mini hole. The Blackhawks responded with a big kill and had one late in the third period also. No complaints.

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