Blackhawks

After months of rehab, Michal Rozsival almost back for Blackhawks

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After months of rehab, Michal Rozsival almost back for Blackhawks

For Michal Rozsival, Thursday carries some significance on his long road to recovery.

“I would like to think I’m a quick healer, but obviously the time was something in between four to six months, and I think it’s going to be six months tomorrow since the surgery. So I think I’m right on time with it,” Rozsival said with a smile.

He’s right: Rozsival had surgery to repair his left ankle, fractured in the Blackhawks’ final playoff game against the Minnesota Wild, on May 12. The hard part is just about over; now it’s counting down the days — not weeks or months — until Rozsival is back in the lineup.

Rozsival could play this weekend, according to coach Joel Quenneville; even if it’s not against St. Louis on Saturday or Calgary on Sunday, Rozsival is very close to returning. It’s been a long wait for Rozsival, who has spent these last few months going from no on-ice work at all to solo skates to post-practice skates with a mini parachute attached to his back. He’s now going through the normal workouts/practices with teammates and looking forward to the night he’s back in the lineup.

“Yeah, I'm getting really close, feeling better every day, getting good workouts in practice and kind of getting into all situations out there,” said Rozsival. “It was nice today. We did some 1-on-1s and 2-on-2 battles, which I haven't done much. So it was good to test it out in these situations, as well. Yeah, I'm feeling better every day and hopefully as soon I can get on the ice and start playing games.”

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Quenneville said Rozsival’s recovery continues even with the normal practices, since he’s back to jostling with teammates during drills.

“This is the toughest part, when you’re getting pushed and you’re shoving right now and getting extra skates in there. It can be frustrating at times. It looks like it’s a long way away, but he’s getting closer now to where he can see the lineup and see himself playing,” Quenneville said. “It was tough injury he had to go through, and the rehab’s tougher because it’s an injury (that) when you get back there’s a little history there you have to deal with.”

It’s unknown how much Rozsival will play once he’s back. It’ll depend on how he’s coming off that injury and, as Quenneville always says, his play will dictate how many minutes he logs. It’s more likely Rozsival goes back to rotating with another defenseman in that sixth spot — with cap concerns returning once Rozsival and Duncan Keith come off long-term injured reserve, it’s unlikely the Blackhawks will be able to keep eight defenseman as they did a few years ago.

Regardless, Rozsival is just about back. And after six months of rehab, skating and more skating, that’s a good thing.

“It’s tough, but it's something everybody has to go through to get back into game shape,” Rozsival said. “To tell you the truth, I kind of enjoy the process, too, right now. I'm feeling better and feeling like I'm getting my conditioning back, and feeling like I'm close to a return. So, it's kind ofexciting.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.