Yes, there were definitely moments where Kyle Cumiskey was “an adventure” in Game 2. Still, there’s some impression that the 28-year-old earned some of Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville’s trust in last night’s marathon win against the Anaheim Ducks.
“I liked his game,” Quenneville said. “I think he’ll get a little better off yesterday’s game, too. He’s one of those kids, the more he plays, the more he sees what’s out there, I think he’ll take advantage of that. His quickness was noticeable. Made a lot of direct plays. I thought he was quick in the puck area. He’s defended well. ”
“Didn’t play a ton, but certainly his minutes were meaningful. I think that was a good start for him.”
You can chalk up much of this to fatigue for other Blackhawks blueliners, yet it’s interesting that almost one-third of Cumiskey’s 18:34 TOI came during the third overtime period. One would get at least some impression that Coach Q was getting a little more comfortable with Cumiskey being on the ice in “meaningful” situations.
Sure, there’s an element of “beggars can’t be choosers” here, but it should be interesting to see if Quenneville uses Cumiskey a little more liberally in Games 3 and 4. With the last change, he can do his best to avoid nightmare situations in which Cumiskey is on the ice against Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
Instead, the Blackhawks can take advantage of modest-yet-crucial strengths Cumiskey possesses, at least in comparison to over-matched veteran Kimmo Timonen. Relatively speaking, Cumiskey can move around and move the puck with more comfort than the once-great Finn.
A variety of “fancy stats” argue that Cumiskey had a respectable-enough game, although the last-change thought hangs over it all, as he started a ridiculous amount of shifts in the offensive zone. (Natural Stat Trick pegs it as 87 percent, the highest of any Chicago player in Game 2.) It’s also worth noting that Cumiskey might have been working off a little bit of rust:
Again, it’s a matter of lesser evils at this point for Quenneville & Co. If it’s clear that Duncan Keith and others are more drained than anyone’s letting on, then Chicago may need to lean on Cumiskey a bit more.
That’s still not a pretty proposition, yet it certainly seems more feasible today than it did before Game 2 on Tuesday.
Related: Quenneville isn’t concerned about the minutes his top four defensemen absorbed.