Speculation was running rampant among media types on Wednesday that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville might make significant lineup changes for Thursday's Game 4.
As for Quenneville, well, he wasn't saying.
The candidates were right wing Adam Burish, left wing Bryan Bickell and defenseman Brian Campbell.
Burish missed the first 65 games of the season with a knee injury. He had 1 and 3 assists in 13 games after returning and has had trouble at times cracking the lineup, as the Hawks were playing well.
But last season in the playoffs, he had 3 goals and 2 assists - and 30 penalty minutes - in 17 games. Asked if Burish would bring more energy, Quenneville answered, "He's certainly -- that's what probably his niche is, as far as energy, speed. Competitive guy that goes to the hard areas of the ice. And he gave us some energy last year. If we think he can provide that, he'll give us a good option."
But Quenneville tried to quell any and all speculation as to lineup changes.
"We'll see," he said of Burish's potential return. "I'm not making any announcements today. We'll look at some options."
Bickell would bring size if Quenneville decides to go in that direction. He's 6-foot-4, 223 pounds but has played in only 23 career NHL games with 5 goals and 1 assist. He has never played in the NHL playoffs.
"He gives you some size, he gives you some speed," Quenneville said. "And he's got some decent hands. He's got a nice shot. I think you can get some energy out of him as well."
So if the 'Hawks need some energy - as they apparently do after failing to win their share of one-on-one battles in Game 3 - those players would represent enticing options, especially considering the way Colin Fraser was taken off his skates by Francis Bouillon with a big hit in the first period.
As for Campbell, recipient of one of the League's biggest free-agent contracts a few years ago, he has been skating for several weeks since breaking his collarbone after a hit from Washington's Alex Ovechkin that sent him awkwardly into the boards.
Campbell practiced on Chicago's power-play unit Wednesday. Quenneville talked at length about the need to play with the puck more. Campbell seemingly would add that option with his ability to skate it out of trouble. In addition, sixth defenseman Jordan Hendry is minus-3 in the series and was minus-2 in Game 3.
If Campbell were to return, he would be slightly ahead of a timetable that initially forecast him to be out for seven to eight weeks.
"You appreciate what he can bring with his speed and he can get the puck up the ice to the cleaner ice out of your zone," Quenneville said. "So we'll see how he's going. He's skating better every day. We'll talk about him. We'll see what happens."
Nonetheless, Quenneville played it close to the vest when he was asked if he would rule Campbell out for Game 4.
"I'm not saying anything on that," Quenneville said.
Campbell did not speak to reporters after practice.
As to whether Quenneville will provide any more insight at Thursday's morning skate, we shall see.
-- John Manasso