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Quenneville eyes defenseman change for Game 2

5/18/2015

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has apparently already seen enough of defenseman David Rundblad in the playoffs.

A day after Rundblad made his playoff debut and was on the ice for two Anaheim Ducks goals in a 4-1 loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Quenneville substituted Rundblad with Kyle Cumiskey in the team's top-six defenseman pairings during practice Monday at the Honda Center. Quenneville would only say Cumiskey "could" play Tuesday in Game 2, but all signs point to Cumiskey's being in the lineup and Rundblad's being out of it.

Cumiskey, a left-handed shot, was paired to the right of Johnny Oduya during practice Monday. Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson were another pairing, and Kimmo Timonen and Brent Seabrook made a third. Rundblad was alongside Daniel Carcillo, who normally plays forward, on a fourth defensemen pairing.

Cumiskey has been a healthy scratch through Chicago's first 11 playoff games. He was recalled from the AHL's Rockford IceHogs just before the playoffs began. He was named the IceHogs' defenseman of the year, had two goals and 18 assists and was a plus-6 in 54 regular-season AHL games. He also played in seven games for the Blackhawks this season.

Although Quenneville wouldn't confirm whether Cumiskey would be in the lineup, he was willing to comment on what Cumiskey could bring to the group.

"He'll be excited about getting in the lineup," Quenneville said. "He brings some speed, quickness. I think he defends with his quickness in the puck area. I think, offensively, he's got some pace to his game as well. I think it will be a good opportunity for him to come in and help us and bring some quickness to our team."

Cumiskey does have some NHL playoff experience. He played in six playoff games for the Colorado Avalanche in 2010. He played in 132 career NHL games from 2006-11 before going to Sweden for the past two seasons. He signed with the Blackhawks the past summer.

Cumiskey also wasn't sure if he would play in Game 2, but he isn't looking to complicate things, should be get the opportunity to play.

"If I get a chance, I'll just try to keep it simple out there," he said. "Get the puck out of my own zone, speed, make a quick first pass."

For Rundblad, it has been a rough 24 hours. He was partly responsible for the Ducks' first two goals Sunday. After the second one, he smashed his stick against a goalpost.

"Obviously, I didn't play as good as I can and as I had to play yesterday, but it's a tough game," Rundblad said. "I want to play. I always want to play. I'm not going to be happy [if I'm removed from the lineup], of course. We'll see what's going to happen."

Quenneville again leaned on his top-four defensemen -- Keith, Hjalmarsson, Seabrook and Oduya -- for a bulk of the ice time in Game 1. Keith played 28:25, Seabrook 26:57, Oduya 22:29 and Hjalmarsson 20:10. Rundblad played 10:47 and Timonen 5:15.

The Ducks are cognizant of that the Blackhawks are playing four defensemen many more minutes. It's something they want to take advantage of as the series goes on.

"You have to be aware of it," Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri said Monday. "When they're only playing four guys, those guys are going to have a lot of minutes. You want to make every minute as tough as you can on them. They had [Michal] Rozsival go down in the last round. It put a little more pressure on those top two pairs. We're going to do our best to just keep putting the pressure and making those minutes tough."

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said they want to make it difficult on the Blackhawks' defensemen, regardless of who is on the ice.

"It's tough to play any team if you're going to finish and have 45-50 hits a night," Boudreau said. "It's not just those top-four defensemen -- it's whoever we play. That's our goal -- to finish checks, finish checks, make it tough on them. Whether it's Duncan Keith or Hjalmarsson or any of them, I mean, it doesn't matter. Whoever's back there, it's our job to make it tough for them to get into the play. So we're going to do what we do."