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Blackhawks could make lineup changes for Game 4

by Brian Hedger /

CHICAGO -- Antoine Vermette kept his comments brief, but they were straight to the point when meeting with reporters after a light practice for the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Friday.

A day after being a surprise healthy scratch in the Blackhawks' 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, the veteran two-way center was not happy. Vermette, who was acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline from the Arizona Coyotes, had played 10 straight games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs after being scratched for the first two games of the Western Conference First Round.

Vermette played 21:14 in Chicago's 3-2 win in triple overtime of Game 2 at Honda Center on Tuesday, taking three shots on goal and being credited with four hits and two blocked shots. He won eight of 20 faceoffs after coming into the game with a success rate of 62.9 percent.

"I thought I had a good game," said Vermette, who was the third-line center. "I was playing well there, so obviously it came as a surprise and a disappointment. I'm not going to lie. I was not happy with that, but my job is to be ready whenever I have a chance to be in the lineup, and that's what I'm going to do."

Vermette wasn't the only surprising scratch in Game 3. Quenneville also sat rookie forward Teuvo Teravainen, who'd been playing right wing on Vermette's line; forwards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom took their spots in the lineup.

Like Vermette, the Finnish rookie wasn't thrilled. Unlike Vermette, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, Teravainen soft-pedaled his thoughts.

"Of course, a little bit [disappointed]," he said. "Of course, I want to play every time, but sometimes I'm not. It happens."

Quenneville said he was trying to get fresh legs into the lineup after the marathon overtime game Tuesday, but Vermette and Teravainen each said their energy levels weren't lacking.

Quenneville said Friday he might switch back to the previous lineup for Game 4 at United Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). Anaheim leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.

"They both could play," Quenneville said. "When we look at making decisions, going into [Game 3] was going to be our most challenging game, energy-wise, after the tough game we had Game 2. We felt that trying to utilize our depth that it could help us, give us some energy and some speed. As it turned out, we didn't win the game. That's where we're at today."

Quenneville was also about the health of fourth-line center Marcus Kruger, who didn't take one faceoff in Game 3. Left wing Andrew Desjardins took the bulk of draws for the fourth line.

"He'll be better [Saturday]," Quenneville said.

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