LOS ANGELES – Sheldon Brookbank will be in the lineup and the Chicago Blackhawks will weather the one-game loss to Duncan Keith when they face the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 tonight at the Staples Center.
With Keith serving a one-game suspension for his high-stick on Kings forward Jeff Carter, the Blackhawks will have to adjust quickly. Brookbank comes in -– defensive pairings are still uncertain -– and coach Joel Quenneville said the veteran is ready to play.
“You have to commend him with how he’s prepared himself,” Quenneville said. “He’s practiced well and this is a good opportunity for him. You commend him on his attitude, knowing he hasn’t had a chance to play, but certainly he’s excited by the chance. I could probably evaluate his performance on how he’s been practicing. We’re excited by what he can bring to our team.”
One thing Brookbank can bring is the physical element, which the Kings showed more of in Game 3. He and the rest of the starting defensemen will have to take on their share of minutes, as well as some of the responsibilities Keith usually has.
But no matter who’s in the lineup, the Blackhawks need a better effort tonight than they had on Tuesday. Even with Keith on Tuesday, the Blackhawks were flat-footed, lacked good puck possession and got frustrated by the Kings’ improved defense. They haven’t had any good Game 3's in these playoffs, and Tuesday was no exception.
“(L.A.) did a great job on us, taking away time and space,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “We didn’t do a good enough job getting pucks in the right spots for forwards. And they could’ve done a better job for us, too, coming back harder. It was a combination of us not playing that great; but at the same time, they really brought it.”
The Blackhawks will have to bring it tonight or they’ll be heading back to Chicago tied 2-2 in the Western Conference Final. The Kings, who enter this game 8-0 at Staples Center this postseason, will again be without forward Mike Richards (concussion).
But for the Blackhawks, it’s about their adjustments sans Keith. It won’t be easy, but with the all-around team game they usually play, they could go back home with a 3-1 series lead.
“He’s definitely a big loss. But we were missing some key guys through parts of the season and we found ways to win,” said forward Marian Hossa. “It’s unfortunate, but we have to find a way to win without him.”