Blackhawks

Trevor van Riemsdyk ready for bigger role with Blackhawks

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Trevor van Riemsdyk ready for bigger role with Blackhawks

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – This past summer was an important one for Trevor van Riemsdyk.

“I wanted to get strong, get back to where I was coming into last year’s training camp. You don’t want anything nagging you, nothing hurting, [you want] everything feeling fresh, especially at this time of the year,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a long year and hopefully I stay a little more healthy this year.”

If van Riemsdyk could have said that last sentence knocking on the wood of his locker with a horseshoe, he probably would have. The defenseman’s promising rookie season was derailed when he suffered a fractured patella last November. Just as he was coming back from that injury/surgery, he suffered a wrist injury that also needed surgery.

Nevertheless, van Riemsdyk was able to return during the Stanley Cup Final and hoist his first Cup in June.

[MORE: Patrick Kane reflects on Blackhawks training camp]

Not a bad ending, really, especially considering the two injuries.

“I was definitely good enough to play, maybe a little rusty because I hadn’t played a lot,” he said of last June. “I was thrilled to be out there and excited to be a really, really small part of us winning.”

This year, van Riemsdyk would like to be a really, really big part of the Blackhawks’ winning. He had a good start again in this training camp at the University of Notre Dame, where he played some with Duncan Keith.

“I really like playing with him,” Keith said. “He’s such a poised guy out there, always makes the smart play and is easy to play with. I think we could be good together.”

Coach Joel Quenneville would like to see van Riemsdyk play an expanded role in the Blackhawks’ defense this season.

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“He’s heady defenseman,” Quenneville said. “Sees plays, kills plays defensively. He’s got a nice stick. Play recognition with the puck, as well, is good. He’s one of those guys where we used him in a lot of situations last year prior to [injuries] and threw him in the final. We have confidence in him and he has confidence in the game, the way he plays with that poise.

"I think he can help us out on the back end and we’re going to need him to be a part of it.”

Van Riemsdyk has a great opportunity this season but knows he won’t get it just because he’s here. He wants to show he deserves a chance. He wants to be a bigger part of the Blackhawks. And he wants – and needs – his health to cooperate.

“It’s kind of the same thing [as last year]: you have to prove your worth. They’re not just going to hand you a role. I have to show I can handle any sort of work load they want to give me,” van Riemsdyk said. “I’m excited for the year coming up and to hopefully stay healthy the whole year.”

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on Saturday night:

1. Special night for Duncan Keith — and Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks celebrated Keith's 1,000-game milestone in the perfect way. Every player wore a No. 2 jersey during warmups, his family was on the ice for the pregame ceremony, and Patrick Sharp made an appearance to present Keith with a silver stick. Seabrook was also paired with Keith among the starters, a great touch by Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff.

But it was also a historic day for Keith's partner and close friend Seabrook, who became the franchise leader in games played by a defenseman, surpassing Bob Murray who previously held that mark at 1,008. It's only fitting Keith and Seabrook shared that moment together.

"We've been riding shotgun together for our whole careers," Keith said. "I couldn't imagine my career, my 1,000 games without him and all the experiences and memories that I've had winning and even losing, and the fun times we've had off the ice. I owe a lot of my success, and I think the team does as well, to Brent and what he means to the team and what he brings to our friendship and as a teammate."

To put a bow on the game, Keith had a vintage Keith moment on the game-tying goal in the third period when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone on his backhand, then fed Toews a dart leading him into the offensive zone that set up DeBrincat's goal. 

2. Alex DeBrincat's torrid start

The Blackhawks continued to get contributions from their top players such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom extended their point streaks to five games to open the season. But DeBrincat has propelled himself into that conversation as a top player on this team.

He had a multi-goal effort for the second straight game, upping his goal total on the season to a team-leading six. His overtime winner is the first of his NHL career in that fashion.

DeBrincat didn't score his sixth goal until Nov. 12 last season, which was the 18th game. And he still finished with 28. While it's hard to envision him continuing to score at more than a goal-per-game pace, it's not hard to see him continuing to be one of the best players on the ice and generating offense and scoring chances on a nightly basis.

"I think I'm getting pretty lucky right now," DeBrincat said. "I'm playing with [Toews] and [Dominik] Kahun, they're making great plays and getting me the puck. It's pretty easy when you have those guys as your linemates. Even on that last goal, [Erik Gustafsson] made a great pass backdoor to me. Pretty easy tap in."

3. Squandering another two-goal lead

The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead for the third straight game. And they squandered it for the third straight game, in large part because they committed five straight penalties in the second and third periods.

It's no longer a blip at this point and is becoming an alarming trend, even though the Blackhawks have come back to force overtime in each of those three games. That will be something the Blackhawks work on all season long.

But Quenneville would have liked to have seen the Blackhawks keep their foot on the gas pedal and cash in on their opportunities to make it a 3-0 game.

"Score the third goal," he said. "I loved the way we were playing. We had a lot of good things going. Eventually they’re going to get chances, get opportunities. But we had some great chances to get it to three. It was one of those nights, every game is kind of different how the leads changed."

4. Brotherly love

For the first time in the NHL, the Schmaltz brothers finally got their chance to go up against each other at the highest level. There had been a handful of other opportunities in the past, but it never lined up for a variety of reasons. 

They didn't see much of each other while on the ice — they were on together for only 1:30 of the game — but Nick did commit a penalty that led to Jordan assisting on the Blues' first goal on a delayed call. 

The best battles between Jordan, who turned 25 on Oct. 8, and Nick, 22, came when they were kids.

"We had a little roller rink downstairs in our house growing up," Nick said. "It would be me vs. my sister (Kylie) and my brother. Those were probably the best battles. Someone would usually come up crying or high-stick or puck to the face or something like that. A lot of good memories. Looking back at it, it was awesome to have that and work on each other’s game and push each other to get better."