Nick Leddy dealt with the fewer minutes in Game 4 the only way he could: by staying alert and being ready for when the call did come.
But the calls didn’t come very often for the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman that night. After being such a big part of the team’s defensive core this season, he spent most of Game 4 on the bench. He’s dealing with it, and going forward, he’ll be ready to do what he can to increase those minutes.
Leddy played just two minutes, 37 seconds in Game 4, by far his lowest total in some time, in the Blackhawks’ 6-5 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins. Coach Joel Quenneville said it had more to do with how the game was going than anything else, and that Leddy will be used more in Game 5.
“I think we expect Nick to get back to playing more in tomorrow's game,” Quenneville said. “I think as the game progressed last game, not getting him out there against the match-up that we were looking for was there, too. Then late in the game we didn't go there. I thought the five guys in our rotation were getting the job done.”
Leddy is at his best when he’s moving with speed. When he’s shown that, he’s been very noticeable. He hasn’t had the best postseason after a great regular season, and needs to show those regular-season traits more to get back on track.
“Nick’s got some nice assets, and I think quickness, getting up in the attack and turning pucks from defense to offense right away is one of his strengths,” Quenneville said. “In the puck area, make sure we're killing plays and defending quickly in the puck area and eliminating players with a puck possession game by them in their zone; (that’s) what we're looking for. But at the same time, Nick gives us a nice presence on the back end and gives us nice balance.”
As far as those diminished Game 4 minutes, Leddy dealt with it. But it wasn’t easy.
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“I think it could’ve been just how the game is going. But my focus isn’t on that; it’s just more on being ready,” he said. “(It’s difficult). You’re sitting there and obviously you want to be out there playing. You just have to stay with it.”
One noticeable aspect of the Blackhawks is their close-knit relationship with each other, and Leddy’s gotten support from his teammates.
“It's not easy to keep your confidence, go out there and be prepared for the next shift, or to go and do your job when maybe you haven't been on the ice for quite a while,” Jonathan Toews said. “There are some guys that maybe get their minutes or their opportunities reduced here and there, guys like (Viktor Stalberg) and (Leddy). You try to talk to those guys, (tell them) just to stay with it because when they're out there, they can really make a difference for us.”
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Andrew Shaw, a good friend of Leddy’s, also told him to stick with it.
“You have to move on from it,” Shaw said. “It’s something that happened and you do what you can control. You can control how hard you work when you’re out there. That’s why I let him know, ‘It’s happened to me.’ It’s just a rough patch and you just get yourself through it.”
Leddy had a breakthrough regular season. He handled himself well in every situation, from defense to power-play time to switching defensive partners between Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank. He’s struggling at the moment, but if he taps into what he did through the first 48 games, he could rebound quickly.
“Every game is different,” Quenneville said. “He can move the puck and defend and do what we need him to do to get involved in the attack, as well, offensively. We’ll look forward to getting him more involved, as well, tomorrow.”