Quenneville unconcerned about D-men minutes: ‘They’re playing hockey’

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Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith battles the Ducks’ Nathan Thompson in Game 2 of the Western Conference final Tuesday night at the Honda Center. The Hawks won 3-2 in triple overtime, with Keith getting 49:51 of ice time. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

How much is too much?

The Blackhawks returned to Chicago with a 1-1 series tie and home-ice advantage after their thrilling 3-2 triple-overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night at the Honda Center. But the heroic effort of their over-worked veteran defensemen left one legitimate question hovering over the celebration: Will they have enough left to finish the job?

Joel Quenneville doesn’t know what all the fuss is about.

“They just had 10 days off [before the Western Conference final], so I feel pretty good about it.” Quenneville said Wednesday when asked about his level of concern that Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya were taking a physical toll in the series. “Their defense played just about as many minutes as Duncs and Hammer and Seabs or whoever. They’re playing hockey.”

For the record, Keith (49:51 of ice time), Seabrook (47:46), Hjalmarsson (47:35) and Oduya (46:06) combined for 191:18 of ice time and comprised 84.4 percent of the d-men minutes in Game 2. The Ducks’ top four of Francois Beauchemin (46:29), Hampus Lindholm (44:07), Cam Fowler (40:21) and Sami Vatanen (37:57) combined for 168:54 and 75.9 percent of their defensive corp’s ice time.

Quenneville, though, indicated that Kyle Cumiskey could help take some of the load off the veterans.Kyle Cumiskey, playing in his first playoff game since 2010, was used sparingly in Game 2 and finished with 18:34 of ice time. Quenneville called it “a good start” for Cumiskey.

“I liked his game. I think he’ll get a little bit better off [Tuesday night’s game], too,” Quenneville said. “He’s one of those kids that the more he plays, the more he sees what’s out there. I think he’ll take advantage of that.

“But his quickness was noticeable. He made a lot of direct plays. He was quick in the puck areas. He defended well. He didn’t play a ton, but certainly his minutes were meaningful. I thought it was a good start for him.”

It was largely lost in the excitement of Marcus Kruger’s game-winning goal, but Quenneville showed more trust in Cumiskey later in the game. Cumiskey played just 57 seconds in the third period. But he played 5:54 in the third overtime —more than Hjalmarsson (5:08) and in line with Keith (6:10), Seabrook (7:17) and Oduya (6:50).

“I just think he was going all right, and sometimes you’re comfortable with the match-ups and they get a little more of a regular rotation,” Quenneville said.

And 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen struggled early and played 14:45, though he was more effective with his limited time as the game wore on and the pace slowed.

Quenneville, who coaches to win each game without regard for long-term effects, said the team will deal with the fatigue issue as the series ensues.

“It’s a good test, but I think our team’s gone through that more than once and are ready to get right back at it,” he said. “I think both teams are in that same situation. You’re playing to win that game and how the game’s going to be played out dictates how you delegate ice time. That will be determined.”

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