ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Niklas Hjalmarsson gave the media -- and everyone else, for that matter -- the silent treatment before the Blackhawks' second-round playoff game against the Wild on Tuesday night, but it wasn't because the defenseman didn't have a comment.
It's that he can't talk -- literally.
Despite that, Hjalmarsson was in the lineup for the Hawks' 4-0 Game 3 loss to the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The veteran has not been cleared medically to speak -- and it could be up to two weeks until he will be -- after he took a puck to the throat in Game 2.
"He's fine, but he is unable to speak right now," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Quenneville doesn't believe Hjalmarsson's inability to communicate vocally will be much of a hindrance on the ice.
"Obviously, you like to talk to the goalie playing it, your partner, whether he has an out or you're the out, sometimes that can be beneficial," Quenneville said. "He's pretty aware of how to play the game. Maybe he has to adapt a little bit, but for the most part, we expect him not to change too much."
A shot off the stick of the Wild's Jonas Brodin hit him on the throat in the second period of Game 2 on Sunday, but after leaving the ice slowly he did not miss a shift.
"(Hjalmarsson) is a tough character; he's a Swedish Viking," defensive partner Johnny Oduya said. "He's one of a kind, obviously. It's good for morale. We know he's always out there doing his job."
Hjalmarsson had four blocks Tuesday night and leads the NHL with 34.
Roster roulette: Nick Leddy, who had played every regular-season and postseason game the last three seasons for the Hawks, was a healthy scratch in Game 3. The defenseman, who is from Eden Prairie, Minn., was benched for much of the third period against the Wild in Game 2.
"I just don't think it was one of my better games," Leddy said. "I have to be better. It's a long year. The playoffs are definitely a different game in itself. You have good games (and) you have bad games. You just can't dwell on them. You can prepare yourself, watch video, do the little things, talk to coaches and see what you can improve on and do better."
Veteran Sheldon Brookbank made his first appearance of the series in Leddy's place.
Said Quenneville of the decision to sit Leddy for Brookbank: "(It was) more so playing Brookbank. (He) came in in St. Louis and deserved to get a chance to play. (It) gives us some presence physically. I thought he played well."
Meanwhile, winger Brandon Bollig returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Game 2 while Jeremy Morin returned to the sidelines.
"I know that I need to bring more," Bollig said. "I need to get back to playing ... simple, play well in our zone and bang bodies and get in on the forecheck."
Winger Andrew Shaw missed his second consecutive game with an apparent right leg injury.
Wild side: Looking for a spark in Game 3, Wild coach Mike Yeo turned to often-injured defenseman Keith Ballard, who has not played since March 17 because of a lower-body injury.
Ballard has been healthy since the beginning of the playoffs but hadn't cracked the lineup. That changed Tuesday night, with Yeo seeking an offensive boost from Ballard on the blue line.
"This is a guy who's a very big part of our team," Yeo said. "Looking at some of the things that we've seen, we (have) had a lot of opportunities to get the puck on the blue line, and he's a guy who can move across the line with his head up and maybe get some of those pucks through."
Nate Prosser was scratched to make room for Ballard.
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