After first-game jitters, Kyle Cumiskey eager for second chance vs. Ducks

SHARE After first-game jitters, Kyle Cumiskey eager for second chance vs. Ducks
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Kyle Cumiskey, battling the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos in the regular season, played 18 minutes, 34 seconds in Game 2 of the Western Conference final against the Anaheim Ducks. (Dirk Shadd/Sun-Times Media)

Kyle Cumiskey didn’t have to pay for his mistakes, so he will get what David Rundblad did not — a second shot.

Cumiskey is expected to keep his spot among the Blackhawks defensive corps in Game 3 of the Western Conference final against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night at the United Center. The 28-year-old defenseman, playing in his first playoff game since 2010, ended up playing 18 minutes and 34 seconds in the triple-overtime marathon. Coach Joel Quenneville seemed to gain confidence in him at the end. Cumiskey played just 57 seconds of the third period, but 5:54 of the 16-minute, 12-second third overtime.

He officially had three turnovers, but none of them proved costly. Poor Rundblad made two mistakes early in Game 1, the Ducks scored off both of them and Rundblad was benched for Game 2.

Cumiskey knows what he was going through.

“First few shifts I was pretty nervous,” Cumiskey said, “and throughout the game, playing overtime that long — you don’t want to make any big mistakes. So hopefully the more I play the more confident I get.”

Quenneville and the Hawks are counting on that. They’re unconcerned about the mounting ice time for their veteran defenders — Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya have played 84.9 percent of the defensive-corps time on ice in the first two games of the conference final.

“I liked his game — expect him to even improve because he’s got another layer with the puck,” Quenneville said after the Hawks’ morning skate at the United Center. ” I think offensively his speed and quickness, he can get involved a little bit more with moving up ice, off the point as well.”

“I think defensively he’s fine. He’s got some quickness. He broke up some plays, made a lot of direct plays as well. Good start.

Cumiskey is hopeful he can build off surviving the initial experience.

“I know I feel better than the first game,” he said. “Every game out there I’ll start feeling better and better, hopefully.”

Though he was shaky at times, Cumiskey at times made plays in the third overtime and looked like he belonged — a level Rundblad unfortunately never reached, or never got the opportunity to reach.

“I thought I kept my game pretty simple,” Cumiskey said. “I wasn’t over-handling the puck, making quick passes — trying not to overcomplicate things and trying to focus on that again tonight.”


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