For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, NHL.com has enlisted the help of former NHL coach Craig Ramsay to break down the action. Ramsay will be checking in throughout the series.
Ramsay played in more than 1,000 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres before going on to coach the Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and Atlanta Thrashers. In the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he led the Flyers to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Final. Ramsay was most recently an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.
CHICAGO -- Losing defenseman Brent Seabrook for three games is a bigger blow for the Chicago Blackhawks than the St. Louis Blues' potentially losing center David Backes for an indeterminate amount of time, longtime NHL coach Craig Ramsay said.
Seabrook was suspended three games by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for his illegal hit on Backes with 4:51 to play in regulation of Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series on Saturday.
Backes is questionable for Game 3 and beyond. Seabrook, who leads Chicago with four points and has played more than 60 minutes through two games, definitely won't play.
"Seabrook has scored twice already, he plays a ton, plays on the power play, is one of their top-flight defenseman playing with [Duncan] Keith and he eats up a lot of ice time," Ramsay told NHL.com. "He scores big goals. He seems to rise to the occasion. He's been really an effective player. He's a dominating player. Defensemen can play more and when they're good they can really dominate a game moreso than a forward."
Ramsay said the best way for the Blackhawks to adjust to Seabrook's loss is to put more faith in defenseman Nick Leddy, who has averaged less than 12 minutes of regulation ice time per game in the series while playing on Chicago's third defense pair with Michal Rozsival.
"Rozsival is an older guy, I don't know how much more he can play, but Leddy is a guy that skates well," Ramsay said.
Ramsay questioned why the Blackhawks don't trust Leddy to do more. He said when they did late in the third period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final last year, Leddy answered by helping Chicago get back into the game.
He played only five shifts in Game 6 against the Boston Bruins, but his two best shifts came after Chicago fell behind 2-1. Leddy drew a penalty and the Blackhawks got four shots on goal during his two third-period shifts that totaled 1:48 in ice time.
"If you look back, Game 6 last year in Boston, they were losing but Leddy wasn't playing very much," Ramsay said. "They gave him more ice time in the third period and he really helped them turn the game around with his speed and with the offense that he can bring. He got the puck through Boston's neutral zone.
"He might be the guy that steps up now, gets some more ice time, and he'll give Chicago even more offense. I think he can make a big difference. I like the way he gets around the ice. He gives them more speed and maintains their ability to get their defenseman into the play."