Blackhawks' Trevor van Riemsdyk, Bryan Bickell likely to play in Game 3
The Chicago Blackhawks could have a different look to their lineup in Game 3 as it appears Bryan Bickell and Trevor van Riemsdyk will play.
CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks lineup is expected to look a little different in Game 3 than it has so far in the Stanley Cup Final. Though head coach Joel Quenneville would not definitively confirm it, all signs point to defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and forward Bryan Bickell making their 2015 Stanley Cup Final debuts in Game 3.
Both Bickell and van Riemsdyk participated in the full drills with the team during Chicago’s morning skate at the United Center. David Rundblad and Kris Versteeg, who each played in Games 1 and 2 of the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, skated with the extra players after the morning skate. They would be the likely scratches in the event both Bickell and van Riemsdyk play.
Bickell had been dealing with a bout of vertigo which kept him out of Games 1 and 2. Those were the only two games the big forward had missed this postseason. It is believed he was injured early in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks.
Quenneville said that Bickell has been medically cleared to play. The veteran winger has five assists in 17 postseason games this year. He skated on his usual line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane during the morning skate.
van Riemsdyk is a bit of a wild card, though. The undrafted free agent rookie hasn’t played a NHL game since Nov. 16. He also hasn’t played in a game of any kind since March 28, which was with the Rockford Ice Hogs in the American Hockey League.
So what is it that van Riemsdyk brings that Quenneville feel comfortable with the prospects of playing him after such a long layoff?
“He's got a real good patience level with the puck, good reads, good stick, positionally aware,” Quenneville said after Chicago’s morning skate Monday. “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.”
Quenneville also noted that van Riemsdyk will be playing limited minutes just as the fifth and sixth defensemen have been for Chicago since Michal Rozsival went down with an injury in the second round.
Van Riemsdyk wasn’t available for much of the earlier portion of the playoffs because he had been nursing the second of two significant injuries suffered this season.
Back in November, the 23-year-old suffered a fracture in his left patella. That kept him out until March. Then in late March while playing with the Ice Hogs van Riemsdyk suffered a wrist injury that required surgery and an eight-week recovery timeline.
In the 18 NHL games he did play after surprisingly making the team out of training camp, van Riemsdyk played in 18 games, in which he averaged 13:32 per game. He had just one assist.
It’s been quite a year for van Riemsdyk, who was signed out of the University of New Hampshire last spring. Now, it looks like this whirlwind year is about to take another extremely positive turn.
“I’m ready,” said a wide-eyed van Riemsdyk after the team’s skate.
The Blackhawks will meet the Lightning in Game 3 at 8 p.m.
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