- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville liked what Versteeg was giving him, especially at even strength. Versteeg saw 40 shifts and 29:01 of ice time in the 4-3 three-overtime loss. His 24:15 of even-strength ice time was second on the team to only Jonathan Toews.
But as the series has progressed, Versteeg's ice opportunities have diminished. That was especially the case in Game 4 on Wednesday as Quenneville played Versteeg 16 shifts and 12:02 of ice time. His 11:05 of even-strength ice time was the second-lowest on the team.
"I thought he was fine the first three games," Quenneville said before departing for St. Louis on Thursday. "[In Game 4], I didn't think he had the pace. We're looking for pace, strength in the puck area, so ..."
Those comments were different than what Quenneville said about Versteeg following the morning skate just before Game 4.
"[Versteeg] has some skill, has some presence with the puck and patience with it as well," Quenneville said before Game 4. "He's good on the power play. His game has progressed as it has improved since the start of the year. We're going to need him to be a factor as we go along here."
Versteeg's effectiveness has varied since the Blackhawks traded for him in November. He was consistent in December and produced 11 points in the month. He struggled to put up those same numbers in January and had four points. His play has varied over the past two months.
Versteeg had 10 goals and 19 assists in 63 regular-season games for the Blackhawks this season. He had a 54 Corsi for percentage (shot differential when he was on the ice).
Versteeg's possession numbers have also varied in the first-round series. He had a 52.9 Corsi-for percentage (the Blackhawks had nine shots for, eight against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations) in Game 4. He had a 25 Corsi-for percentage (six shots for the Blackhawks, 18 against) in Game 3. He had a 60 Corsi-for percentage (nine shots for, six against) in Game 2. He had a 44.7 Corsi-for percentage (17 shots for, 21 against) in Game 1. He has two assists, a zero rating and four shots on goal in the four games.
Quenneville said "we'll see" whether he was going to make any lineup changes in Game 5 on Friday. It's unlikely he'll opt to take out Versteeg, whom Quenneville often does rely upon, but his coach would certainly like to see more from him the remainder of the series.
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