-- Just one game into their Western Conference Quarterfinals series against Nashville, the Chicago Blackhawks
are ready to shake things up for Sunday night's encore at the United Center.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville
had star defensemen Brent Seabrook
and Duncan Keith
working together again at Saturday's practice and said the duo will likely take the ice together for Game 2. Quenneville split the pair in late March following a broken collarbone and rib that has shelved defenseman Brian Campbell
since March 14.
Seabrook had been paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson
and Keith matched with big-bodied forward-turned-defenseman Dustin Byfuglien
"Duncs and Seabs, we'll likely put those two guys back together," Quenneville said. "It's been awhile since they've been playing together, but we know that it's a great tandem. They work well together, so we expect that to be solidified."
Splitting them yielded good results down the stretch and Quenneville even talked this week about how well it was going for the Hawks, who won six of their last seven games to finish second in the Western Conference. However, they struggled to get the puck out of their own zone in a bad third period that saw Nashville score four times to take a 1-0 series lead.
Now, the Hawks' defense is back to the way it used to be, save for the pairings behind Keith and Seabrook.
"Across the board there might be a couple new pairs, as well," Quenneville said. "They've all played together at some point throughout the year, so there's a lot of familiarity there."
"Duncs and Seabs, we'll likely put those two guys back together. It's been awhile since they've been playing together, but we know that it's a great tandem. They work well together, so we expect that to be solidified." -- Joel Quenneville
Campbell is skating with the team in practice now, but has been ruled out for Sunday's game. That means Byfuglien will likely stay at the blue line rather than shifting back to being a forward -- where he scored three goals against the Predators in six regular-season games.
"You never know," Byfuglien said, when asked if he thought he could wind up in front of the net as a forward before the series ends. "Right now I'm back on defense, and all I got to do is get the shots there. I'm just doing my job, what I'm told to do."
Nashville coach Barry Trotz
didn't seem surprised that Quenneville was shaking things up so quickly.
"There's adjustments," he said of Seabrook and Keith being reunited. "I don't expect the Hawks to change their whole system or anything. They're going to make some changes to their lines, maybe matchups or D-pairings, all those type of things to try and get into situational play. I'm going to try and counteract that. It will be a little bit of a chess match."