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Michal Kempny may make playoff debut for Blackhawks

Chicago could use seven defensemen trying to extend series with Predators

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

NASHVILLE -- Defenseman Michal Kempny could make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, FS-TN, CSN-CH).

The Blackhawks trail the best-of-7 series 3-0 and face elimination.

 

[RELATED: Complete Blackhawks vs. Predators series coverage]

 

Neither Chicago coach Joel Quenneville nor Kempny would confirm whether the defenseman would play in Game 4. But Kempny took the place of Johnny Oduya during practice Wednesday. Chicago had an optional morning skate Thursday.

It was possible Kempny would play, with the Blackhawks possibly going with seven defenseman and 11 forwards, Quenneville said Thursday.

Kempny, 26, had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 50 games in his first NHL season. He has played two games since March 19.

Video: CHI@STL: Kempny opens the scoring with tricky slapper

"He's had some stretches in games where he looks … you like his speed and motion and movement from the back end," Quenneville said. "You like his shot, his competitiveness. That's the area where we're always looking for consistency, that predictability defensively that we expect, not just from defensemen, but our team. But he does give us some pace."

That pace has been lacking from Oduya, acquired in a trade with the Dallas Stars on Feb. 28 to give the Blackhawks depth and veteran leadership. He was part of Chicago Stanley Cup championship teams in 2013 and 2015 but is minus-3 with one shot on goal in the past two games and has had trouble dealing with the speed of the Predators forwards.

"Obviously there has to be more levels than what it is right now," Oduya said.

Kempny said Thursday he hopes he can bring a spark if he is the lineup.

"If I would play I would be very glad and I would do my best, put 100 percent into the game," he said.

Quenneville said Chicago only will find success if it changes its mindset.

"I think that when you're down [3-0] it's hard to be enthusiastic and then rah-rah," he said. "Everybody's got that inner drive. … We have to find a way to get some excitement by winning a period, winning a game.

"That enthusiasm can be very dangerous for a team like us. We have to find a way to capture it. Words, you can talk all you want. We need actions to speak for us and build off that."

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