VANCOUVER (AP) – In last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, when the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks went toe-to-toe for six games, it was Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane who filled the stat sheet, this time around they’ll need some help.
Kane and Toews combined for 19 points (7G, 12A) as the Blackhawks eliminated the Canucks on way to a Stanley Cup Championship.
But with a much improved Canucks team, the Blackhawks will need more from their defensemen, and that shouldn’t be a problem.
“Let’s face it, they have skill guys,” Brian Engblom, of Versus, said on the Boers and Bernstein Show. “They have a good set of six defensemen. I think they’re going to need some points from their defense too. It’s not just about shutting down [Daniel and Henrik] Sedin and [Ryan] Kesler, those are the three top guys on Vancouver’s team, for sure.
“I really think that [Brent] Seabrook and [Duncan] Keith, in particular, are going to have to get some points and chip in, because they don’t have the depth offensively that they did. And that’s asking a lot becuase everybody is going to be looking to see what kind of a job they do in their own zone.”
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The defensive depth, unlike that of the forwards, is a strength for the Blackhawks. They can comfortably go six deep and roll out players that would be top defensemen on most other teams.
“They are terrific,” Engblom said. “Seabrook and Keith are just at the top of the food chain for defensemen in the National Hockey League. So I think they know how to get it right, more than most guys. But I really do think the production is going to have to be there, whether it’s on the power play or five-on-five. They’re going to have to chip in and get some goals and some points if they’re going to win this series.”
Beyond Keith and Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brian Campbell have plenty of talent and experience, and Nick Leddy and Chris Campoli have exceeded expectations in their time with the Blackhawks.