CHICAGO — Jon Cooper gave a promising young rookie his Stanley Cup Final debut in Game 2.
Now, Cooper’s counterpart looks like he’ll do the same in Game 3.
On Monday, Joel Quenneville hinted strongly that freshman blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk would make both his Stanley Cup playoff and Final debut tonight in place of David Rundblad, less than 48 hours after Cooper gave 20-year-old Jonathan Drouin his first game of the series on Saturday night.
“Could play,” Quenneville said of TVR, refusing to officially reveal his lineup plans. “He’s got a real good patience level with the puck. Got good reads. Good stick. Positionally aware.
“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.”
Van Riemsdyk, 23, surprised the club out of training camp by making the team as an undrafted free agent, then further impressed in his first 18 games — before suffering a knee injury that cost him most of the season. Van Riemsdyk re-joined the team in late May and has been practicing every since.
“I’m going to be ready to go, play my game, keep it simple,” van Riemsdyk said after the morning skate. “I’ve had a lot of positive support here in the locker room, reminding you it’s just a hockey game you’ve been playing since you’re little.
“Obviously it’s a bigger stage, everything going on around it, but once you step on that ice, it’s just another hockey game. Just play the way you know can.”
The van Riemsdyk-for-Rundblad swap makes sense on a number of fronts. One, it’s a right-handed shot for right-handed shot, which evens out the pairings. Two, getting TVR into the series at home for Game 3 allows Quenneville to better control the matchups, as he has the last change.
Three, it could finally give the ‘Hawks some real contribution outside of the top-four defense. While van Riemsdyk was hardly a workhorse during the regular season, he did play frequently and averaged over 13 minutes a night.
Rundblad, meanwhile, has averaged 7:29 per game this postseason.