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Defenseman Nick Leddy a healthy scratch for Game 3

Chicago Blackhawk defenseman Nick Leddy pressures Wild's Nino Niederreiter right during Game 1 an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Chicago

Chicago Blackhawk defenseman Nick Leddy pressures the Wild's Nino Niederreiter, right, during Game 1 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series in Chicago, Friday, May 2, 2014. The Blackhawks won 5-2. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Daniel White ) ORG XMIT: ILARL106

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Updated: June 8, 2014 6:38AM



ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Blackhawks didn’t lose
Game 3 to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday because Nick Leddy didn’t play. But the benching of a defenseman who had played every game for the Hawks for the last three seasons wasn’t insignificant.

The 23-year-old Leddy, who led Eden Prairie High School to the Minnesota state title at the Xcel Energy Center in 2009, had the most unceremonious homecoming of his career when he was a surprising healthy scratch in Game 3 in favor of veteran Sheldon Brookbank. Leddy had played in 296 consecutive games, including 44 playoff games, before that.

Though Leddy sat out the last 18 minutes of Game 2 after the Wild scored on his first shift in the third period, coach Joel Quenneville said the move was a reward for Brookbank more than a punishment for Leddy.

‘‘Brooksie came in [against] St. Louis and deserved a chance to play,’’ Quenneville said after the Hawks’ 4-0 loss. ‘‘I thought he played well.’’

But Quenneville made it clear before the game that he expected more out of Leddy, a first-round draft pick by the Wild in 2009 whom the Hawks acquired in a trade in 2010.

‘‘Pace,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘I think the guys that we
always say we’re looking for more . . . that are not getting as much as you want or much ice time, we’re looking for things. Everything’s quicker, everything’s faster, everything’s more assertive. Whoever we’re talking about, that’s what we’re [talking about].’’

The low-key Leddy, who doesn’t seem to worry about much at all, was hardly in panic mode after his benching in Game 2. In the first eight games of the playoffs, he had two assists and was a minus-1. In 23 playoff games last season, Leddy had two points and was a minus-8.

‘‘I don’t think it was one of my better games,’’ Leddy said before Game 3. ‘‘But I can’t really focus on that. I’m more focused on the game. I have to be better. If I am, we’ll see what happens.’’

It remains to be seen when he will return to the lineup, but the Hawks needed much more than Leddy at his best to win Tuesday.

‘‘It’s a team game,’’ defense-
man Duncan Keith said. ‘‘There are guys coming in and out of the lineup throughout the whole year. Obviously, Nick’s a big part of our team. We’ve got a lot of defensemen that come in and play. I think tonight’s performance was a team thing. . . . We all need to be better next game.’’

Keith rued the opportunities the Hawks missed early.

‘‘You’ve got to give [the Wild] credit,’’ he said. ‘‘They played hard and did what they had to do. But I don’t think that’s anywhere near the level we can play at and [need] to have to be successful in the playoffs.’’

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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