Maybe it's because the
Hampus Lindholm has the potential to become that kind of stud defenseman someday soon, but the Ducks don't have the equivalent of Keith, who is averaging a remarkable 30 minutes and 25 seconds of ice time per game. For now, the Ducks' strength is the balance they've built among their three pairs in terms of style and ice time.
"We don't get overloaded with minutes," said
Once, Beauchemin routinely logged high totals. When the Ducks won the
While any coach would love to have a franchise player like Keith or
"If you know those guys are playing big minutes, 25, 26 minutes, you want to make it as difficult on them as you can," defenseman
Rundblad had replaced
Coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't confirm the change, but given that he put Cumiskey with Oduya — with Keith alongside Hjalmarsson and Seabrook with 40-year-old
"If they want to continue playing those same four or five guys," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said, "that's to our advantage down the stretch, in the later stages of this series."
The Ducks, meanwhile, have played the same six defensemen so far and can call upon veteran
"I think with their minutes, with their responsibilities, now there's not a fear of putting any one of them into any situation that comes to the front," Ducks Coach
Stoner, signed as a free agent by the Ducks last summer in part because of his physical play for Minnesota against the Blackhawks in last season's playoffs, said he likes the equal distribution of minutes.
"I think it shows confidence in all six of us," he said. "It's been like that all year. ... It just gives us more diversity when we're playing a team with so much depth like the Blackhawks. They've got four good lines, and it helps to have confidence in all six defensemen."
Stoner dished out a team-high seven of the Ducks' 44 hits Sunday. The Blackhawks' defensemen can expect more of that from the Ducks, who are averaging 36.2 hits per game in the playoffs.
"Whether it's Duncan Keith or Hjalmarsson or any of them, I mean, it doesn't matter," Boudreau said. "Whoever's back there, it's our job to make it tough for them to get into the play. So we're going to do what we do."
What they've done has worked well enough to finally earn them some respect.