Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank could become a regular guy
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter October 29, 2013 10:01PM
Updated: October 29, 2013 11:38PM
When the season began, it appeared that Sheldon Brookbank could be the odd man out in the Blackhawks’ three-man rotation for the sixth defenseman spot. Suddenly, he has a chance to be the go-to guy.
Brookbank played in a second consecutive game for the first time Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators, on the strength of his one-goal, plus-2 performance Monday at Minnesota. With incumbent Michal Rozsival struggling in the early going and newcomer Michael Kostka out for about a month with a foot or ankle injury, Brookbank is getting the chance to prove he can be an every-day player.
“He’s played well this year,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said before the game. “Every game, he’s been rock solid, and he gives us a little offense on the point, as well. His puck-possession game has improved. I thought he’s stepped up his game this year.”
Brookbank said he’s been treating this season the same as last season, when he split time with only Rozsival.
“It’s hard to get ice time out there, and now there’s an extra guy [Kostka] there, too,” he said. “So it’s just something you deal with, and you can’t really dwell on it.”
As for his goal, the sixth of his eight-year career?
“I usually get one in there every year, but it’s nice to get one here early,” he said. “So now I’m playing with the house’s money.”
The Hawks have yielded six goals in the first 30 seconds of a power play, and they’ve particularly struggled with faceoffs in their own zone. The Wild’s first goal Saturday at the United Center came five seconds into a power play — and that wasn’t the first time it happened this year.
“We’ve given up five right off the faceoff,” Quenneville said. “If we lose the draw, we’ve still got to block the shot. We’re not happy about it, so let’s do something about it.”
The Hawks are a fair 50.5 percent at the dot, but while they’re a sparkling 64.4 percent on faceoffs on the power play, they’re just 45.8 percent short-handed. Jonathan Toews is a spectacular 34-for-47 on the power play but just 1-for-10 short-handed.
Michal Handzus (upper-body injury) again didn’t skate Tuesday and missed his third consecutive game. Quenneville said he’s probably out for the game Saturday at Winnipeg, as well. Ben Smith was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game.