NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Michal Kempny was in and out of the lineup throughout the regular season. Now, he might be playing in his first career NHL postseason game.
Kempny could be in, and the Blackhawks could go with seven defensemen when they face the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of their first-round series on Thursday night. The Blackhawks trail the Predators 3-0 and are trying to avoid being swept in a postseason series for the first time since 1993.
The Blackhawks' four-line rotation hasn't really been there through the first three games of this postseason, so bulking up on defense is the next option. Regardless of whether or not the Blackhawks go that route, however, coach Joel Quenneville said their puck possession has to be a lot better.
"Our puck decisions or strength in the puck area and relentlessness, when we have it going on all four lines, you're making them defend. But it seems like we're defending a lot more than we're accustomed to," Quenneville said. "We have to find a way to get bigger contributions from each line to get that consistency no matter if we have seven D or four lines."
Kempny played in two of the Blackhawks' final three regular-season games (at Colorado and Anaheim), but his last game prior to that was March 19. Kempny didn't know if he was in the lineup when he talked to the media, but he said that if he is, he'll be ready.
"If I would play, I would be very glad, and I would do my best, put 100 percent into the game," said Kempny through interpreter Igor Alfimov. Kempny added that it's been tough seeing where the Blackhawks are to this point.
"It's not a good feeling especially when you see your team losing, but I believe it's going to change today," he said.
If the Blackhawks go with six defensemen, there's a chance Kempny would be in for Johnny Oduya. Asked if Oduya has to be better, Quenneville once again said it's on everybody to be so, not just one player.
"Individually or collectively, from every single guy there's more. That's what we're going to need," he said. "To be our best we need everyone contributing in their own ways and being their best, and I think everyone has room for improvement."
Catch all the action from Nashville tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.
Projected lines and defensive pairs
Nick Schmaltz, Jonathan Toews, Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen, Marcus Kruger, Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero, Jordin Tootoo
Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny and Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell and Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and illness: Michal Rozsival (facial fractures), Andrew Desjardins (lower body)
Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson
Harry Zolnierczyk, Mike Fisher, Austin Watson
Kevin Fiala, Calle Jarnkrok, James Neal
Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons, Craig Smith
Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban
Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin
Injuries and illness: Colin Wilson (lower body)