Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville knew going into the Game 3 warmups that there was a chance Marian Hossa (upper body) would be unable to play and he had decided on Ben Smith as Hossa’s replacement if one was needed, based on a CSN Chicago report.
All the same, Quenneville kept Smith, 24, out the the pregame warmups while 38-year-old forward Jamal Mayers, who was a healthy scratch, took part in them.
Quenneville explained that he was hoping that Hossa would still be able to play and consequently didn’t want to “tip their hand.” However, while several Blackhawks players knew for most of the day that Hossa might not play, Smith ended up having to scramble to get ready.
“He didn’t really have the typical game-day preparation,” Patrick Sharp said. “I don’t know if he had a nap or a decent meal. He just came in, put his skates on and jumped into the Stanley Cup Final.
“For a guy who works as hard as Benny does, to be rewarded like that, and I thought he played great. He got a good scoring chance in the second period and put pucks in great areas. That’s something he’ll always remember. It gave us a big lift to see him roll in here and put his gear on last night.”
Smith added after the game, “They tell us to stay ready and you never know when your opportunity is going to come.”
He’s certainly not going complain about the short notice. He ended up with 10:23 minutes of ice time and a minus-one rating in his 28th NHL game, including playoff contests.