An injury brought Tomas Kopecky
into the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, and at this point, the only he'd come out of the lineup is the same way.
Were it not for Andrew Ladd
being unable to play in Game 1 of this series against the Philadelphia Flyers
, Kopecky would have watched that night in Chicago, instead of scoring the game-winning goal.
Kopecky also had an assist in Game 1 for his only points in the series. But with all the other good things he's done, he's maintained a full-time spot in the lineup even after Ladd returned for Game 4 -- and in Game 5, he played on a line with stars Jonathan Toews
and Marian Hossa
"You've got a lot options with Kopie," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville
said Tuesday. "I think it's his patience with the puck, he's got a great shot, he's annoying to play against, he knows where the front of the net is and he's effective in a lot of ways. I thought that line was useful in a lot of ways last game (in Game 5). I thought they all brought something different to the table. Kopie gives us another forward that is useful in a lot of ways."
After being a healthy scratch five times this postseason, Kopecky is happy to be useful at all.
"It's a dream come true to play in the Stanley Cup Final," he said. "Any other player can tell you, that's something you play hockey for. When you were growing up, as a kid, that's what you were dreaming of."
Kopecky's position is one Toews doesn't envy. The Blackhawks' captain believes that game-by-game level of uncertainty is something he'd have a hard time dealing with.
"I think those are the guys that are making the biggest contributions and the biggest sacrifices," Toews said. "The guys that are playing low minutes or the guys like Kopie or Nick Boynton
, the guys that all of a sudden have to come into a pressure situation like that ... I can't imagine how tough that is. Playing on a line with him and Marian last game, I think we did a lot of god thing and Kopie was right in there on a lot of those offensive plays. It's good to see him having that success and we're happy for him."
Lost in the glare of close friend and fellow Slovak Hossa playing in his third straight Stanley Cup Final with his third different team is the fact that Kopecky also is in the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight year. He won a Cup with the Detroit Red Wings
in 2008 and lost with them in '09 -- but he played a total of 12 games in those two postseason runs, and not at all in the Final.
"To whom much is given, much is expected," Kopecky said. "I don't take this opportunity lightly. I'm in the lineup, I'm going to do my best to help the team win."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com