TAMPA — Tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Chicago Blackhawks will go with the same six defensemen they’ve used since David Rundblad replaced Kimmo Timonen for Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.
But don’t dismiss the chances of rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk making an appearance at some point in the series.
“Not playing today, but he’s real close,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “He’s sitting there. He’s that close. We expect a very good chance he’s going to be in the series.”
Barring an injury to one of the Blackhawks’ top-four defensemen, van Riemsdyk would most likely replace Rundblad or Kyle Cumiskey, depending how those two perform against the Lightning. A right shot, he may be more likely to replace right-shooting Rundblad versus left-shooting Cumiskey.
In Game 7 against the Ducks, Rundblad logged just 5:35 of ice time, while Cumiskey played slightly more, at 8:31.
Quenneville talked glowingly today about van Riemsdyk, the 23-year-old who’s still recovering from wrist surgery and hasn’t played for the ‘Hawks since Nov. 16.
“We saw firsthand what he was able to do when he came into training camp. Surprised us all how well he played, how effective and efficient he is,” said Quenneville.
“We’ve been skating him in practice every day. One of his strengths is his reads, positionally aware, decision-making with the puck. He’s got a lot of attributes that can help our team. I think he came onto the scene rather fast for us. I think we have a lot of confidence and trust in him.”
Related: Blackhawks recall van Riemsdyk