This isn’t how Sheldon Brookbank wanted to get into the lineup, but here he is nonetheless.
The veteran defenseman is in because Brent Seabrook is out, sidelined by a three-game suspension for his hit on St. Louis Blues forward David Backes. Still, this is the type of game Brookbank loves: tough, physical and snarly.
“You better believe it,” said Brookbank about this being his kind of series. “It’s gonna be tough. You have to try and keep yourself in check and not get too caught up in all the stuff. So far it’s had a lot of bite to it, and I don’t expect that to change at all.
Brookbank looked to be slotting in Seabrook’s spot at morning skate, alongside Duncan Keith. Seabrook and Keith have played together for so many years now, and their on-ice chemistry is obvious. Keith said they’ll all adjust as need be.
“It's obviously a big hole to fill. (Seabrook)’s a big part of the team, and he's played great in the first (two) games, scoring some big goals. But I think Brookbank's going to come in, and I think we've got a lot of confidence in Brooksie to come in and do the job,” Keith said. “He's played well the last couple years for us, and he played a big game last year in the playoffs for us, too.”
Indeed, the last time Brookbank entered a postseason game it was Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals last year against the Los Angeles Kings. Brookbank replaced Keith, who was suspended a game for hitting Jeff Carter in the mouth with his stick. Brookbank had to get up to that playoff level quick, and he’ll have to do the same tonight.
“It’s just something you’ll just have to get yourself into sooner rather than later. You can’t just wait around and feel it out, it’s going 100 mph right off the bat so you have to be ready to roll,” Brookbank said. “This is where you want to be. You want to play in the playoffs. That’s what we all play for. I’m just going to make the most of it.”
Brookbank has been here before, filling a void on the Blackhawks’ blue line at a crucial time. He’s had to fill big shoes before; he has to again.
“No one’s really going to replace Seabs; he’s one of the top D-men in the league,” Brookbank said following Monday’s skate. “As a group we’re going to have to pick up the slack and just play a steady game out there.”