Sheldon Brookbank joked about his goal on Monday night, something that’s rare for him but turned out to be the game-winner against the Minnesota Wild.
“I have to try to get one every year,” he said with a grin. “It’s nice to get one early. Now I’m playing with the house’s money.”
No, Brookbank isn’t known for his goal totals. But the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman isn’t here for that, anyway. He’s here to add depth to the Blackhawks’ blue-line group, rotating in the lineup with Michal Rozsival. But with Rozsival struggling in recent games, Brookbank got a chance for more playing time and took advantage of it.
“He’s played well this year,” coach Joel Quenneville said yesterday, prior to Brookbank playing against the Ottawa Senators. “Every game, he’s rock solid. He gives us offense on the point as well. His puck possession game has improved and it was nice to see him score. He’s stepped up his game this year.”
Brookbank signed a two-year deal with the Blackhawks prior to the 2012-13 season, part of which was lost to the lockout. After that, he was in and out of the lineup, sharing time with Rozsival until the postseason, when Rozsival was an every-game player and Brookbank got just one game during a Duncan Keith suspension.
This season, sharing the sixth defenseman’s spot continues. At the start of October it was a three-man race with he, Rozsival and Mike Kostka, who has since been hurt. It’s not the most ideal situation, sharing time. But Brookbank prepares the same way every day.
“You just have to concentrate in practice, just try to be on your toes,” he said. “You try to keep yourself in the best shape possible and be ready to go. I did it last year, I’ve done it in the past. It’s just something you kind of learn to deal with.”
Still, Brookbank has been good when he has been in there. He’s played steady minutes, he brings a physical element that the Blackhawks could always use and he’s staying on the right side of that plus-minus every night.
Brookbank just waits for the call to get into the lineup. It’s not the most ideal situation, but he’ll make the most of the playing time he gets.
“Each guy is just trying to put the best foot forward, and that’s all we can really do,” he said. “It’s hard to get ice time out there. It’s just something you deal with and you can’t really dwell on it. You just have to try to move forward and play your game.”