Nick Leddy’s struggles translate to time out
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org June 20, 2013 9:20PM
Updated: June 20, 2013 9:39PM
Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Michal Rozsival , Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook are a combined plus-33 in the NHL playoffs. Nick Leddy is a minus-7.
So it wasn’t entirely shocking that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville benched the young defenseman for most of Game 4, allowing him just four shifts — none in the third period — and 12 seconds in overtime. The veteran Rozsival absorbed much of Leddy’s minutes, and the five Hawks defensemen who did play all saw at least 25 minutes.
Leddy, a restricted free agent after the season, has at times effectively used his speed and puck-moving ability offensively, but he has struggled in his own end.
‘‘Those five guys basically assumed the same kind of minutes across the board, and [we] rotated those guys evenly,’’ said Quenneville, who vaguely cited matchups and late-game situations as the reasons why Leddy sat. ‘‘It’s basically the first time we did that all year. We’ll see how that goes.’’
Captain Jonathan Toews said Leddy faces the same challenge Viktor Stalberg has faced in the postseason after two benchings and diminished ice time.
‘‘You try to talk to those guys just to stay with it, because you know when they’re out there, they can really make a difference for us,’’ Toews said. ‘‘That’s a huge sacrifice that guys like that have to make for our team, and we know mentally they’re going to be ready. And those sacrifices aren’t going unnoticed by their teammates.’’
Pivotal Game 5
Three years ago, the Hawks hosted Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final tied 2-2 with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Hawks won 7-4 and closed out the title in Game 6 in Philly. Toews said this year is different, as they have the momentum to go along with the home ice.
‘‘We lost two games straight on the road [in 2010],’’ he said. ‘‘I think we played good hockey — we just didn’t find a way to win in that hostile environment. But I think now we have momentum coming off a huge road win in Boston. It’s something we really need to use. We can’t wait for the next one.’’
The Final is averaging 5.356 million viewers per game, making it the most-watched Final through four games since those numbers were first kept in 1994. Game 4 averaged 6.459 million viewers and peaked at 8.192 million in overtime. Locally, Boston posted a 28.9 household rating, while Chicago had a 22.0.