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Blackhawks likely to add Bickell, van Riemsdyk

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have some lineup changes coming for Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at United Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

If things stay as they were during line rushes at the morning skate:

* Captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane will be split onto the top two lines, with Toews staying at center on the top line and Kane going back to his more familiar spot on the right wing of the second line.

* Power forward Bryan Bickell, who missed the first two games because of vertigo, will return to action at left wing on the second line.

* Rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk will play an NHL game for the first time since he was sidelined Nov. 16 by a fractured left patella, making his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut as either the fifth or sixth defenseman.

Splitting Toews and Kane is a move that was expected after their line was almost completely held off the score sheet in the first two games. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville likes to keep them apart for balance.

"Certainly I think splitting those two up gives you a little bit more freedom … whether it's room or something for [the Lightning] to be concerned with," Quenneville said. "I think a little bit more balance to our offense is why we usually keep them apart. We'll see how that progresses."

Kane was held without a shot on goal in Game 2, a rarity for him, and Quenneville might use the last line change advantage at home to get him away from Tampa Bay's top defense pairing of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman. Getting Bickell back in the lineup might also give Kane more space to work with the puck.

Bickell said he's feeling better after first feeling the effects of vertigo prior to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. Bickell played the first period in the finale against the Ducks, but sat on the bench for the remaining two periods. He took line rushes at the morning skate prior to Game 1 against the Lightning, but didn't participate in the pregame warm-ups.

"Yeah, I had vertigo," Bickell said. "I've never experienced anything like that thing before. It's very weird and it's said that it comes and goes from travel or stuff like that. I'm just happy to get it [over with]. It was tough, you know, sitting out and just saying you had vertigo and can't play."

Forward Kris Versteeg started in Bickell's place the first two games, but is likely to be a healthy scratch for Game 3.

"It's nothing you can get used to," Versteeg said. "I mean, for myself, it's just something you've got to stay as ready as you can. If you get used to it, then I don't think you should be playing the game. You should always want to be on the ice."

Van Riemsdyk is eager to get on the ice in the NHL again, despite not playing with Chicago in more than six months because of two injuries, the left kneecap fracture and a right wrist injury that required surgery in April.

"I've been doing all that I can to get ready and just be mentally prepared for this," said van Riemsdyk, the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk. "Obviously there's a lot of experience in this room that can help you get ready. I've got a brother who's been through this, so he's helping me out. It's been a fun experience to be part of it this time and not just watching on TV or watching my brother go through it."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

J.T. Brown - Cedric Paquette - Brenden Morrow

Jonathan Drouin - Brian Boyle - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Nikita Nesterov, Jonathan Marchessault, Vladislav Namestnikov

Injured: none


Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Bryan BickellBrad RichardsPatrick Kane

Patrick SharpAntoine VermetteTeuvo Teravainen

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus KrugerAndrew Shaw

Duncan KeithNiklas Hjalmarsson

Johnny OduyaTrevor van Riemsdyk

Kyle CumiskeyBrent Seabrook

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Kris Versteeg, Kimmo Timonen, Joakim Nordstrom, Daniel Carcillo, David Rundblad, Antti Raanta, Phillip Danault, Ville Pokka, Ryan Hartman, Victor Svedberg

Injured: Michal Rozsival (fractured left ankle)

Status report: Bickell told Quenneville he was ready to return, but said he was waiting for the nod from Quenneville to make sure. … Cumiskey and Rundblad combined for a little more than 12 minutes in each of the first two games, but van Riemsdyk might play a little more. He quickly won Quenneville's trust in the 18 games he played during the regular season, playing left point. Cumiskey is more of a left point, so it's likely van Riemsdyk will play at the right point, where he spent the most time in college.

Who's hot: Teravainen has goals in each of the first two games for the Blackhawks and assisted on Vermette's game-winning goal in Game 1.

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