Apr 23, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Blues center Maxim Lapierre (40) is checked by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank (17) during overtime in game four of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
As everyone might already know, Brent Seabrook was suspended 3 games for an illegal hit on Captain David Backes during Game 2. Well now the Chicago Blackhawks just happen to be riding a 3 game win streak and will have the services of Brent Seabrook in Game 6, which returns to the United Center this Sunday. In Brent Seabrook’s absence Sheldon Brookbank got the call to step up and fill in the void on the ice. A similar situation happened last year during the playoffs after Duncan Keith was suspended for one game and Brookbank was called upon to replace him in the lineup. With the return of Brent Seabrook the Chicago Blackhawks now have the difficult decision on who stays and who goes in the lineup. Does Sheldon Brookbank deserve to start Game 6?
During the regular season Sheldon Brookbank served as the Blackhawks utility man coming off the bench on a need basis. A majority of the times he was called upon during the year was because someone needed a rest or there was an injury in the lineup. He served in a bigger role during the previous seasons in Chicago but recently due to the emergence of great depth on the team, he has seen a decrease in his playing time. During the 48 games that Brookbank played in during the regular season he had 2 goals, 5 assists, was +2, and had 52 penalty minutes. Through 3 playoff games of subbing for Seabrook he has achieved a stat line of 2 assists, +2, 0 penalty minutes, and had an average time on ice of 17:36. The two assist were to two different line combinations, which shows his ability to click with different teammates.
Joel Quenneville has shown confidence in Brookbank and takes the extra time to appreciate him when the chance is given. In an interview right before the start of the playoffs Quenneville said, “I think Brookbank’s an old pro that we like the energy that he brings. He brings us a physical dimension on our back end which we can add to our team game. So that’s what he does for us and I think he does a nice job for us. He’s well-liked by his teammates and he’s appreciated for what he does.” Playing a physical team game will get you a long way in hockey, especially in the playoffs. That is one of the reasons I like Brookbank out on the ice. You can get your points from players like Toews, Kane, Hossa, and Sharp. Then Brookbank can be used in more of an enforcer/tough guy role with Bollig. From time to time he will pick up the occasional assist and goal to also help the team. Quote courtesy of ESPNChicago.com
When thinking about the decision to start Sheldon Brookbank in Game 6 another question is who would have to come out of the lineup? Michal Rozival would be the perfect player to sit right now in the position that they are in. Taking a 3-2 series lead heading back to Chicago for Game 6 the Blackhawks can afford to give the 35-year-old veteran defenseman a rest. After 4 out of the first 5 games in the 1st round have gone into overtime you know even the young are effected by consistent overtime games. You always want to conserve as much as you can because it’s that final push down the stretch that counts and tests your team’s endurance throughout the playoffs.
So what do you think? Does Sheldon Brookbank deserve to start Game 6 based on his play during Brent Seabrook’s absence? Personally I do think with his consistent play through these games it couldn’t hurt to give another player some rest with the current depth. This could also be something to throw teams off a step in future rounds. If you have any other reason why he should start or shouldn’t please leave a comment below. I always like to hear other people’s viewpoints. LET’S GO HAWKS!!!
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