Loss of Seabrook puts strain on defense
VANCOUVER -- News that the Chicago Blackhawks might have center Dave Bolland back for their game against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday was offset by the fact that they probably won’t have defenseman Brent Seabrook in the lineup.
Bolland was noticeably laboring Tuesday at practice, not running drills with a regular duo of linemates. But Joel Quenneville reminded the media it was Bolland’s first day on the ice since blocking a shot with his right foot and by Wednesday he could look more like himself.
Normally there would be no question that Seabrook’s value as a defenseman--who faces the Sedin twins almost exclusively -- is more important than any forward but when it comes to Bolland and the Sedins, everyone knows his value. Bolland even joked he might be feeling that much better knowing the opponent.
“Always, whenever I hear their playing,” he quipped after practice Tuesday. “Just miraculous in terms of being better.”
“For me I just want to play my game and tighten things up defensively and contribute offensively when I get my chance,” Montador said of his added responsibility.
Montador, the Hawks’ major free-agent signee this past offseason, is garnering attention coming off a two-goal performance while tallying three overall in his last three games.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Montador said. “It’s just a couple of games. It’s a long year. It’s nice to get appreciated and attention. It’s not my favorite part of the business. I certainly don’t think I can coast. If anything if you do get attention it can make it that much more challenging.”
Is there any doubt a month ago it would have been Nick Leddy skating with Keith as the duo to take on the Sedins? Montador has moved up the depth chart quickly.
“He’s got that upside to his game offensively,” Quenneville said. “But the best way to measure him [is] how he’s playing defensively. It’s the overall package we’re looking for, and I think he’s been improving.”
Also improving, according to Quenneville, is John Scott. Much maligned for most of his Hawks’ career, he’s getting his first real chance to play extended minutes in multiple games.
“It’s been nice,” Scott said. “I’ve been busting my butt this year trying to get back in the lineup. It’s satisfying, it’s gratifying. I don’t want to jinx myself. Just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Scott is minus-1 in his four games since starting to take a regular shift on defense. He hasn’t been burned but there have been a few hairy moments in the Hawks' end.
“I usually don’t get to play against the fast teams,” Scott said referencing the Hawks' last opponent and next one. “I think I did pretty well. I kept up my foot work. I was a little worried about it but I held my own, made some good passes and didn’t give up any goals. That’s the idea.”
But he knows this might be the toughest task on the recent schedule, especially without Seabrook in the lineup.
“Seabs does everything,” Scott said. “He kills penalties, power play, puck moving defenseman, physical. I think everyone is going to have to pick up their game a little bit. I have to be a little more physical. It’s a challenge.”
Quenneville is gaining more and more faith in the hulking defenseman.
“He’s done well,” Quenneville said. “He’s only going to get better. He senses danger. It’s been a long time since he’s played D, and he’s responded to getting some ice time. We’ll see, maybe he gets a little bit more.”
Kane without Hossa: Since being reunited with Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews has taken off. He was named third star in the NHL off of his four-goal, two-assist performance over his last three games. So where does that leave Patrick Kane?
So much was made of Hossa helping Kane defensively, now that responsibility falls to Patrick Sharp.
“We still have the puck a lot,” Kane said. “We’re not in our end that much. When we do get down there [defensive end], Sharp is same thing as Hossa. He’s good defensively. If he’s down low, he’ll stay there until we call for the switch. Pretty simple.”
But does Kane miss Hossa on the offensive end?
“Hossa is a great player,” Kane responded. “Hopefully I get the chance down the road again.”
When it was pointed out Toews has taken off since Hossa joined him, Kane had a different tune.
“Toews can keep him, I don’t want him,” Kane joked.
The last time the teams met in Chicago, Kane accused Canucks center Ryan Kesler of “slashing and whacking” him on several shifts and not getting called for it.
Kesler was told of Kane’s comments.
“It brings a smile to my face to know that,” Kesler said. “To be honest, it’s what every center does off the draw. You lose the draw, you give the guy a little shot. It’s an unwritten rule. They do it to me. I get it all the time, I give it all the time. I guess he has to get used to it.”