Hockey News: Blackhawks Tie Series; Jim Hiller Joining Leafs

When Antoine Vermette scored the double-overtime, series-tying goal in Game 4, Kimmo Timonen and Brent Seabrook received a plus rating to add to their stats.

For Seabrook, the goal came during his 32nd minute on the ice. Timonen, on the other hand, accrued just 10:15 of ice time in the contest. This was in a game that saw a total of 85 minutes and 37 seconds played.

Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey didn’t see a lot more ice time than that, either (13:27). Leave it to Seabrook, Duncan Keith, who accrued a whopping 40:39 in the game, Niklas Hjalmarsson, 39:13, and Johnny Oduya, 29:26, to accumulate the big minutes in Game 4 … as well as the rest of the postseason.

The Chicago Blackhawks are facing a visible problem in their defense. It’s almost comical how much the team’s top-three defensemen are relied upon, while the bottom two are used less than even the team’s fourth offensive line.

It’s not a coaching mistake, either. Head coach Joel Quenneville has to play his lower-tier defenders and paid the price for the measly ice time in a matter of 37 seconds. Just over a minute after Seabrook scored to provide his team with a 3-1 lead in the third period, the Anaheim Ducks came roaring back with three goals in the allotted time frame, the second fastest in Stanley Cup Playoff history, with a slew of defensive mistakes at the core. The most glaring was the second goal, the equalizer, which occurred after Timonen sent an ill-advised pass up the middle to Vermette that was instantly controlled by the Ducks.

It seemed that the Blackhawks were finally displaying their weakness to the Ducks as the Anaheim offense took control. However, a slew of defensive gems from Chicago’s top players, along with the tantalizing and imperious Blackhawks offense, kept the home team in the game. Patrick Kane’s power-play goal at 12:39 of the third period pushed the game to extra time and Vermette’s patience was the difference hours later.

The organization recalled blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk before Saturday’s match-up, however Quenneville nor van Riemsdyk were willing to say whether the 23-year old will be ready for game action this series.

Although the Blackhawks are focused on winning a series, as well as their third championship in six years, the future has to be weighing on general manager Stan Bowman’s mind. Youngster David Rundblad becomes a restricted free agent, while Oduya, Timonen and currently injured Michal Rozsival become unrestricted free agents. It’s not like Bowman has a lot of salary-cap room to work with, either.

However, another Stanley Cup ring can overshadow all conundrums.

Here is a look at the rest of the NHL news from an action-packed weekend.

Vermette went from a healthy scratch to hero after his Game 4 winner. [Pro Hockey Talk]

Brandon Saad made a nice play with his feet to help set up a goal Saturday night. [Puck Daddy]

Jim Hiller, Mike Babcock’s assistant in Detroit, is likely to sign with Toronto. []

Babcock’s contract is an exception for coaching salaries, not a new norm. [Globe & Mail]

Coach Mike Babcock (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Coach Mike Babcock (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Coyotes are hiring a 25-year old to their management staff. [Hockey Feed]

Devan Dubnyk will have contract discussions with the Wild this week. [The Score]

Get to know the GMs of the newly formed NWHL. [Today’s Slapshot]