A healthy scratch since the first round, Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg has at least been impressing his coach in practice.
“He’s had a great week of practicing,” Joel Quenneville said today. “He’s not happy. He wants to play in the worst way. Puts himself as a candidate to get in the lineup. We’ve had some decisions along the way. Last game we could have inserted him. We’ll see. I like his approach. I told him we expect him in this series.”
Quenneville would not say if there would lineup changes tonight, as the Western Conference Final shifts back to Chicago after the Ducks and Blackhawks split the first two games in Anaheim.
Versteeg was replaced by Teuvo Teravainen in Game 1 of the Minnesota series, and he hasn’t gotten back into the lineup since.
The Chicago Sun-Times wonders if Versteeg could be in line to replace Bryan Bickell, who’s failed to score in 12 playoff games.
Of course, that would require taking a big body (223 pounds) out of the lineup, against a big, physical team in the Ducks. Versteeg is listed as the Blackhawks’ lightest player, at 176 pounds. Which is to say, swapping in Versteeg and playing him with Bickell’s current linemates, Patrick Kane and Brad Richards, may be seen as a risk versus a team like Anaheim.
“It’s never easy when you’re not in,” Versteeg told the Sun-Times. “You always want to be in and competing and helping the team out whatever way you can. But you know what, you’ve just got to come and be the best teammate you can be, regardless of whatever the situation is. Hopefully when you get your call, you’re ready to go.”
Related: Versteeg misses Kane