With the news coming out on Sunday afternoon that Brent Seabrook has been suspended three games for his hit on St. Louis Blues captain David Backes, things look bleak for the Chicago Blackhawks. Already down 2-0 in the series, Chicago will now have to soldier on without one of the Hawks’ best and most important defensemen.
The situation isn’t quite as hopeless as it may seem, however. The Blues will be missing someone as well, as it seems quite unlikely that Backes will be returning to the lineup anytime soon. Further, the Blackhawks have one of the league’s best minute-eating defenseman in Duncan Keith, who will now probably be asked to play close to 30 minutes out of every 60. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya can handle a little bit of extra ice time as well.
With Seabrook’s suspension, Sheldon Brookbank will get a chance to enter the playoff mix. Needless to say, the difference between the two players is enormous, but the Blackhawks’ problem in this series hasn’t been their defensive play so much as the complete abandonment of their typical style.
Losing Seabrook hurts, but Keith, Hjalmarsson, Oduya and a sprinkle of Michal Rozsival should be enough to mitigate the impact of his absence somewhat. Chicago can still get back into this series; the Blues had significant problems playing at the United Center this season, and all the Blackhawks need to do to regain a competitive edge is re-emphasize puck possession just as they have for years.
A loss of focus helped contribute to Seabrook’s ill-advised and suspension-earning hit in Game 2. Renewed focus could help make it, as well as the entire first two games of this series, a distant memory.