The numbers argue that the Chicago Blackhawks leaned heavily on their top defensemen in a 4-1 Game 1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Kesler indicates that the Ducks plan on taking advantage of that fact.
When asked about the situation – David Rundblad had a rough afternoon, Kimmo Timonen received less than six minutes of ice time – Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was his typically terse self.
While that bottom pairing was scarce, Duncan Keith received 28:25 minutes of ice time and Brent Seabrook registered almost 27 minutes. That’s not much of a departure for Keith (he actually logged more ice time in each of the last three games against Minnesota), it was a two-minute boost for Seabrook.
However valid the questions may be, it’s clear that the Ducks hope to swing this situation – and their perceived deeper pool of options on D – to their advantage, as Kesler told the Chicago Sun-Times Mark Lazerus:
“When you get guys playing a ton of minutes, it’s gonna wear them down,” Kesler said. “We’ve got to invest in them physically.”
That’s an interesting bit of phrasing, huh?
The good news for Chicago is that they avoided much wear-and-tear in the second round thanks to a sweep of the Minnesota Wild. They’re also used to the rigors of the postseason, although injuries do provide questions about their defense beyond a strong top four.
It’s certainly a situation to watch, especially if the Blackhawks make this another battle, as they seem to expect.