For most of his career with the Blackhawks, defenseman Brent Seabrook has known a few things to be true when it comes to himself and his teammates, particularly Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
"Tazer scores the goals, Kaner makes passes and scores goals, and I was the shutdown guy, physical guy who made it tough on the other team's top players," Seabrook said. "That was the role that I loved and the role I took pride in. When I come to the rink, that's the role I want to play.
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"In my time here in Chicago I've always had a lot of responsibility in key situations. Going against the other team's top line, I think I've done a good job over the years and took pride in it. That was my job."
But in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Seabrook, who had been paired with Nick Leddy, admittedly wasn't at his best, and a reduction in ice time reflected that he wasn't the only one who felt that way.
"For whatever reason, I didn't like my game," he said. "I wasn't happy with my play at the start of the series and even going back to Minnesota."
Seabrook went from being a lock for 20-plus minutes of ice time every night to playing just more than 12 minutes in Game 4 against Detroit. When asked about his reduced role afterward, he opted not to respond.
"I was ticked off at myself, first and foremost," Seabrook admitted Sunday. "I've got to be better and play."
He knew it, coach Joel Quenneville knew it, and longtime blueline partner Duncan Keith knows that for the Hawks to stay alive in the playoffs they'll need big No. 7 out there on the ice.
"Absolutely. We need him," Keith said. "For us to win (Monday), we need him. He's a guy that has that presence out there."
In Saturday's crucial Game 5, Seabrook, reunited with Keith once again, was absolutely a presence, logging more than 23 minutes, delivering a couple of big hits and adding an assist in the Hawks' 4-1 victory.
"It was nice to have a better game last night," he said.
"I thought he played good coming off not playing very much," Keith said. "It's tough to do that. Not only physically but mentally, and he did a great job -- lot of good shots, lot of big hits. He's a great player."
Quenneville couldn't have been more pleased with the way Seabrook responded.
"You've got to commend Seabs," Quenneville said. "I think he was excited about the opportunity and prepared himself well.
"They have such a great rapport, him and Duncs, in all areas of their lives. I think that support on the other side helps him. I thought right off the bat he got some good hits, and it was good to see him bounce back."