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Chicago Blackhawks: Bickell, van Riemsdyk will play in Game 3

By Matt Barbato
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Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville appears to have made a couple of tweaks to his lineup following his team’s Game 2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. According to multiple reports from the team’s morning skate, Trevor van Riemsdyk replaced David Rundblad on defense and Bryan Bickell was back in the lineup after missing two games with vertigo. Bickell replaced Kris Versteeg in the morning skate lines.

Quenneville did not confirm or deny these changes, saying that both “could play” Monday night.

Another interesting note is that Marian Hossa is back on the first line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. Patrick Kane was put on the second line with Bickell and Brad Richards.

The most intriguing substitution is along the blue line, where van Riemsdyk, an undrafted free agent, will play in his first game since Nov. 16. He suffered a knee injury that held him out for several months before suffering a wrist injury during a game in April. TVR was a long shot to make the roster in training camp and impressed Hawks brass by holding his own on defense and exhibiting plenty of speed offensively. However, that was during an 18-game sample size and Quenneville could be throwing van Riemsdyk to the wolves by giving him his first game action in the midst of the Stanley Cup final.

Believe it or not, Rundblad was actually a +3 in his last three playoff games. He wasn’t impactful however and had a tendency to make routine plays very difficult. It’s hard to gauge whether van Riemsdyk will have a positive effect in a tough situation.

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Bickell did not play in the final period against the Anaheim Ducks. Many attributed that as a coaching decision, but Bickell raised eyebrows when he missed Games 1 and 2 of the Cup final with a mysterious injury. According to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, Bickell was dealing with vertigo, which explains why he did not have a concussion, but was suffering from symptoms.

The postseason has been the time of year when Bickell thrives, but this season has been the opposite. Bickell has yet to score a goal in the postseason and has five points in 17 games. Bickell has just one assist since registering two helpers in Game 4 of the conference semifinal against the Minnesota Wild.

Bickell’s size doesn’t exactly fit with the up-tempo style of play this series took on during Game 2. Quenneville may be hoping to get some sort of physical play from the bruising forward.

Toews and Kane had been neutralized on the same line in the first two games of the series. Toews has one point and four shots on goal, while Kane is a -1 with only three shots on net. The Hawks will need a lot more from their two stars if they want any hope of winning the Stanley Cup.

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