The Blackhawks went 3-0 while defenseman Brent Seabrook served his suspension for the high hit he delivered to Blues captain David Backes in Game 2, and coach Joel Quenneville usually is loath to change his lineup when things are going well.
He certainly will make an exception for Game 6 on Sunday, though.
‘‘Seabs is one of the steadiest D-men in this league,’’ fellow defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. ‘‘And pretty underrated, too. You don’t hear him too much around the Norris Trophy talks and things like that. I think Seabs is definitely one of the best players in this league, and what he brings to our team every night is huge. It’s obviously going to be huge for us to get him back.’’
Backes returned to the Blues’ lineup in Game 5, and there’s obviously still bad blood over the hit. On Friday, Backes delivered a big hit to defenseman Duncan Keith, who allegedly taunted him while he was woozy from the hit. But with the Blues down 3-2 in the series, the stakes are far too high to be looking for revenge and risking penalties. Seabrook wasn’t made available to the media Saturday.
Sheldon Brookbank performed admirably in Seabrook’s absence, picking up two assists and posting a plus-2 rating in his three games. But Seabrook can be a difference-maker for the Hawks — a physical presence, an offensive force and a major contributor on the power play and the penalty kill. Seabrook’s breakout passes are as good as anyone’s on the team and are vital to creating scoring chances against the Blues’ stout defense.
‘‘We’d still like to see our ‘D’ get more involved in the attack, and I think Seabs can add that dimension getting back into the lineup,’’ Quenneville said.