Coach Joel Quenneville used “could” to describe Trevor van Riemsdyk’s playing status for the second time this series on Monday. This time, however, it like van Riemsdyk is getting his shot.
Van Riemsdyk and Bryan Bickell are expected to play Monday night when the Blackhawks host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
On the other side, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper wouldn’t divulge whether or not Ben Bishop would start in goal; Bishop did address the media but did not talk about what ailed him or if he was starting.
As for Van Riemsdyk, he was in the room earlier Monday – David Rundblad was still on the ice as the room was closing, usually a sign a player will be scratched. Van Riemsdyk - who has been sidelined with injuries to his knee and wrist - also said his family should be here tonight.
“I’ve been doing all I can to get ready and just be mentally prepared for this,” said van Riemsdyk, who will play his first NHL game since Nov. 16. “Obviously there’s a lot of experience in this room to help me get ready, I have a brother who’s been through this. He’s helped me out; that’s an advantage to have. It’s been a fun experience to be part of it this time and not just watching it on TV or watching my brother go through it.”
Quenneville liked and trusted van Riemsdyk this fall and believes the young defenseman will be fine in Game 3.
“[He brings] real steadiness to the back end,” Quenneville said. “He's got a real good patience level with the puck. Got good reads, good stick. He’s positionally aware. I thought he came out into the team out of the blue, outstanding at the beginning of the season for us. I think he adds another dimension to our back end.”
Van Riemsdyk has been skating with the Blackhawks since early in the Western Conference Final. He said the work has helped him and he feels like he’s come a long way since the Blackhawks first recalled him around that time.
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“When I went down with the wrist I could focus on the leg and get it stronger. I’ve had another couple of months to work on it,” he said. “It feels better. I feel a lot smoother out there.”
Meanwhile, Bickell said he was suffering from vertigo since the end of the Western Conference Final. He was a late scratch in Game 1 and was also out for Game 2. Monday morning, he was back on the second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane.
“I talked to everybody in the city and everybody on the phone as to what I could do,” Bickell said of his vertigo. “It was tough sitting out and just saying that you had vertigo and can’t play. It’s passed. It’s one of those things that could take two weeks or it could take four or five days so I’m happy it’s gone and I’m ready to go tonight.”
The Blackhawks will find out for sure whether they’ll face Bishop or backup goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy just before the game. Again, Bishop talked, but wouldn’t discuss his ailment/injury or status for Game 3. Cooper said he’d talk with the Lightning training staff after his press conference.
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“I don't know who is starting. I will find out after this media session,” Cooper said. “We have two capable goalies that we have 100 percent confidence in who is going to play. One of them is playing. It's Vasi or Bish. That will be determined tonight.”