Nick Leddy took the healthy scratch the way any competitive player would. He wasn’t happy about it.
But the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman is also taking it for the reason it was intended: to wake him up and get him to play better. On Friday, it looks like he’ll get a chance to put that motivation to work.
Leddy should be back in the lineup on Friday when the Blackhawks play the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of their second-round series, coach Joel Quenneville said on Thursday. The scratch came after Leddy had struggled in Game 2, sitting the final 12 minutes of the game. As frustrating as it was, however, Leddy said he will look at it the right way.
“I think any competitor would get ticked at that. But that was a coach’s decision and I think for me, as a player, I know I have to be better,” Leddy said, who added it was certainly a new experience being a healthy scratch. “It’s definitely a huge learning experience; definitely a big wake-up call.”
When Leddy’s at his best, he’s using his speed to get the Blackhawks out of the defensive zone and into the opponent’s. He’s noticeable when he does that. He also has a strong shot, especially on the power play. Quenneville said Leddy needs to bring those elements consistently.
“Nick is going to give us some speed, give us some pace,” Quenneville said. “I think he's got that quickness to his game that we'd like as a team to be part of our team as well.”
Quenneville isn’t afraid to bench someone who’s not performing up to snuff. Leddy was the latest to feel that.
Leddy got the message; on Friday, he looks to do something about it.
“I think I need to keep playing the same way. Obviously, I’ve just got to be better,” he said. “It’s jut little things: in the defensive zone, going to pucks hard. It’s just more the little things than anything. I haven’t been the best in my ability. I have to.”