LOS ANGELES – As a reliable, hard-nosed, stay-at-home defenseman during his 13-year career, Joel Quenneville appreciates what Sheldon Brookbank provides to the Blackhawks’ blue line.
On Thursday, Quenneville finally showed that appreciation with playing time instead of pep talks.
“Had to tell ‘Brooksy’ a couple times, ‘Be patient, there's going to be an opportunity. It could be the most critical time come the playoffs,’ ” Quenneville said before Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. “I have to commend him on his patience and his approach, knowing that he deserves to be playing. Nice to see him get a chance.”
Brookbank, 32, filled in for fellow defenseman Duncan Keith, who served a one-game suspension for high-sticking Kings forward Jeff Carter in the face in Game 3. The game marked Brookbank’s playoff debut with the Hawks after appearing in 17 playoff games with the Anaheim Ducks.
Minus Keith, Quenneville paired Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson on the Hawks’ top defensive line to start Game 4. Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival played together as the second defensive pairing, while Brookbank and Nick Leddy formed the third pairing.
Quenneville said none of his defenseman should imitate Keith, a skilled skater and passer who won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in 2010. Instead, Quenneville said, those who logged extra ice time to fill in for Keith should rely on their individual strengths.
“I don't think we want to be Duncan,” Quenneville said. “You’ve got to play your own game, play within your limitations, know we have the structure of our team game.
"We all have a rhyme or reason how we play without the puck. Everybody has different skill sets."
No worries: Although Viktor Stalberg entered Thursday with no goals and three assists in the playoffs, the Hawks’ 27-year-old forward said he was happy with his recent performance.
Stalberg said he and his linemates, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad, had worked hard to create scoring chances but remained in need of some lucky bounces around the net.
“Can’t look at the numbers too much,” Stalberg said. “ I think as a group we've been playing well. [We will] to keep improving as we go along.”
Triple lutz: Hawks forward Bryan Bickell confirmed reports floating around Hollywood this week.
Yes, he figure skated as a child. And, yes, he once posed for a picture wearing a tutu.
“I did start figure skating,” said Bickell, a burly and bearded Canadian. “It was more can skating, we call it. I think my parents, they wanted to teach me how to skate first, then learn hockey.
“But yeah, there’s a picture floating around somewhere. [My dad] says it’s on the wall. It’s not on the wall. He’s making that up.”