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Blackhawks defenseman Oduya uncertain for Game 4

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO – Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya has an upper-body injury and his status is unknown for Game 4 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Oduya apparently sustained the injury at some point during the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 on Monday, when his ice time was significantly reduced in the second and third periods.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was asked Tuesday about Oduya's status and whether there might be any lineup changes for Game 4 in relation to it.

"We'll see on both, but I think he's alright," Quenneville said. "He looked alright today and we'll see how he is [Wednesday]."

Oduya left the bench after his fifth shift in the second and missed the final 7:44 of the period. He played in the third, but 5:05 on seven shifts. His ice time for the game was 16:47, which was more than eight minutes less than the 25:09 he averaged coming into the game.

Oduya is one of the top four defensemen Quenneville has leaned heavily upon throughout the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but particularly the past two series. The top four played roughly 85 percent of the defense minutes in the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks and soaked up almost 90 percent in the first two games against the Lightning.

After Oduya's minutes decreased in the third period of Game 3, rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk saw his playing time increase in his first playoff game at the NHL level. If Oduya can't play in Game 4 or is still hampered by the injury, van Riemsdyk is likely to keep seeing increased ice time.

If Oduya doesn't play, the most likely candidate to enter the lineup is David Rundblad, who started the first two games. The Blackhawks also have 40-year-old veteran Kimmo Timonen as an option.

"He's been a huge player for us all season long the last couple years," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said of Oduya. "Rotating defensemen, we've done it before. I think we've got a good group back there that knows how to manage their ice time and play the right way."

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