Brent Seabrook was frustrated with his game, for whatever reason it was going wrong.
The Chicago Blackhawks defenseman was just struggling, basically throughout these playoffs. And as the struggles continued, his minutes diminished; he played just 12:03 in the Blackhawks’ 2-0 loss to Detroit in Game 4, by far his lowest time on ice this postseason.
On Saturday night, though, with the Blackhawks facing elimination, Seabrook looked like Seabrook. He was big, he was getting shots on the power play and he way doling out big hits. And he couldn’t have picked a better time to find his game again.
Seabrook played just over 23 minutes, his highest TOI since Game 1 against Minnesota, had two hits and tied for a team-high seven shots in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the Red Wings on Saturday. It was a strong performance from Seabrook, who was paired with his familiar partner Duncan Keith. Whether it was that reunion or Seabrook just finding his game again, it worked.
“It was a comfortable feeling last night; I was excited to get back out there and play,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with my game from the start of the series, even going back to (the first round vs.) Minnesota. So it was nice to have a better game last night.”
Coach Joel Quenneville, who had cut Seabrook’s minutes down – he said it was more of a matchup thing, but that the Blackhawks did “need more” from the big defenseman – liked what he said.
“I thought he had a real strong game. His physical presence was noticeable; it was big and set the tone early,” Quenneville said. “You’ve got to commend Seabs. The day before (Game 5) he was excited about the opportunity and prepared himself well.”
Seabrook couldn’t put a finger on what was going wrong for him these playoffs. There was criticism for it, but he said he didn’t really notice it that much; his biggest critic is the one he sees in the mirror every day.
“I was just pissed at myself, first and foremost,” he said. “I knew I had to be better.”
Playing with Keith again certainly didn’t hurt. The two have a tremendous camaraderie that goes back a lot of seasons – their stalls are next to each other in the locker room, they live around each other in Chicago -- and it shows in their play. Keith said Seabrook handled the situation well.
“He played well coming off not playing very much. It’s tough to do that, not only physically but mentally,” Keith said. “For us to win, we need him. He’s a guy who has that presence out there.”
Seabrook was back to his old self on Saturday night. He’s part of the core that the Blackhawks need to be at their best and play their role well. He did that in Game 5. He’ll need to do it again if the Blackhawks want to pull this series out.
“(Jonathan) Toews scores goals. (Patrick) Kane makes passes and scores goals. I’m the shut-down guy, the physical guy who makes it tough on (the other) team’s top players,” Seabrook said. “That’s the role I love and take pride in. And when I come to the rink, that’s the role I want to play.”