May 17, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (67) moves the puck against the defense of Chicago Blackhawks defenseman David Rundblad (5)during the first period in game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sport
Coach Joel Quenneville announced late Monday afternoon that Kyle Cumiskey “could” play in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in place of David Rundblad. In Quenneville jargon, that means that Kyle Cumiskey is the next man up for the much maligned 3rd defensive pairing. Rundblad, who had split minutes with Michal Roszival during the regular season, became the veteran defenseman’s replacement after injury in the previous series.
Kyle Cumiskey brings a bit of playoff experience with him into Game 2, having played in 2010 with Colorado, where he tallied a goal and an assist in an eventual series loss against the San Jose Sharks. Cumiskey should bring Hawks fans a little bit of comfort over Rundblad, Cumiskey has played in the playoffs before (unlike Rundblad) and he has provided offense to go with his defensive skills. He’ll have to be up to par, otherwise we could see some wild defensive pairings, the Keith-Seabrook line has been the hot hand thus far and I don’t think “Q” is feeling adventurous enough to break that up. Clearly there are two foreseeable paths here.
The first path is the one Hawks fans would undoubtedly prefer, and that’s Cumiskey comes out hungry and plays at least as well as Roszival, and the discussion ends right then, right there.
The second path isn’t as glamorous and much more frightening, Cumiskey does equally (*gulp* or worse) than Rundblad and Quenneville has to go back to the lab. Going back to the lab would inevitably require the recall of some AHL talent, most likely Phil Danualt, Viktor Svedberg, or Ville Pokka, all had good seasons in the AHL and with Rockford being eliminated, the Hawks should be able to call them up without any grumbling. Most people say that Stephen Johns would be the best emergency option, but sorry to reign on your parade, he announced he broke his left arm in the final game against Grand Rapids.
So, the saying that best fits the Blackhawks situation on the third pair is a cross between “It seemed like a good idea at the time” and “Nothing is ideal.” Whatever happens with the defense, this series will not be a blowout like most think it was going to, and the Hawks are going to need every man they can muster if they want to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.