TAMPA, Fla. —Not a lot of rookies could spend nearly seven months away from the NHL, step into the lineup in the Stanley Cup Final and succeed. But Johnny Oduya thinks Trevor van Riemsdyk is one that can.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Oduya said. “We saw him early in the year. He’s one of those guys that I would pick that maybe could be out for a longer period of time and still come in and play very, very well. He’s very smart. He’s poised with the puck. His positioning is very good. We’ll just see what happens.”
Joel Quenneville said Thursday that van Riemsdyk “could play” in Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, which usually means that he will play. Van Riemsdyk was a surprise out of training camp and played in the first 18 games of the season before suffering a fractured left kneecap. After returning to the AHL in March, he had surgery on his right wrist and hasn’t played since.
David Rundblad likely would be the odd man out.
“You can look at him [when he was playing], a lot of nights, he was out there against top players,” Quenneville said of van Riemsdyk. “He was out there late in periods. He was killing plays, making plays, reliable. He played, surprisingly, to a different level than we anticipated he could get to. Obviously, we missed him when he got injured.”
Versteeg staying in
Kris Versteeg played less than 10 minutes in Game 1, but looked fast and fresh, and was effective in Bryan Bickell’s spot on the second line. Even if Bickell (upper-body injury) is ready to go for Game 2, Versteeg — who became a father on Monday —is likely to stay in the lineup.
“I liked his game,” Quenneville said. “He had good pace to his game. Good energy. Hadn’t played in a while [and is] coming off a couple exciting days. It was good for him [in Game 1]. I liked what he did, so good chance he’s playing.”
A rivalry with teeth
Andrew Shaw appeared to bite Victor Hedman in the torso during a post-whistle scrum behind the Lightning net in Game 1, but he will not face any discipline from the NHL, which took a long look at the incident. After Patrick Kane poked at Ben Bishop’s glove after a save, Hedman shoved Kane behind the net, and Shaw jumped in. There’s no definitive proof that Shaw bit him, but Hedman thought he did.
“It felt like it,” Hedman said. “I have a little bruise, so maybe.”
Quenneville said he wasn’t sure what happened. He was then asked if he was ever bitten as a player.
“No,” he said with a laugh. “Nor did I bite anybody.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn’t give 21-year-old rookie Cedric Paquette any advance warning that he’d be matched up against Jonathan Toews’ line in Game 1. It worked. Paquette’s line was effective, keeping Brandon Saad, Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa (the latter two swapped spots midway through the game) off the scoresheet.
“I [didn’t] want him thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m going to have to check Captain Everything,’” Cooper explained. “ I didn’t want him thinking about it. I want him to go out and play.He
finds himself against No. 19, so be it.I thought he did a great job.”