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Hjalmarsson moves up to top defense pair for Chicago

Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 8:47 PM

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer / Blackhawks-Kings series blog

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Hjalmarsson moves up to top defense pair for Chicago

LOS ANGELES -- Niklas Hjalmarsson will move into Duncan Keith's spot on the top defense pairing for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at Staples Center (NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Keith, the 2010 Norris Trophy winner, is suspended for the game because of a high-sticking infraction on Kings center Jeff Carter in the second period of Game 3. Based on the pregame warmup line rushes, Hjalmarsson will skate with Brent Seabrook on the top pairing.

Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival, who were the team's third pairing at the start of the postseason, will be the second duo. Oduya moved to the second pair for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals when Chicago coach Joel Quenneville reunited Keith and Seabrook on the top pair against the Detroit Red Wings.

Nick Leddy, who dropped from the second pair to the third for Game 5 against the Red Wings and has seen his ice time reduced in the second half of this postseason run, will skate with Sheldon Brookbank, who is making his 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in place of Keith.

Based on warmups, the Kings' lineup will remain the same from Game 3. Center Mike Richards remains out with a concussion.

Here is Chicago's projected lineup for Game 4:

Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane

Brandon Saad - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Stalberg

Michael Frolik - Dave Bolland - Marcus Kruger

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Michal Rozsival

Nick Leddy - Sheldon Brookbank

Corey Crawford

Ray Emery

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