Keith, Rozsival set to return for Blackhawks


Keith, Rozsival set to return for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been looking for a jolt, something to get them going in the right direction. They may be getting it on their blueline.

Duncan Keith and Michal Rozsival are expected to play on Saturday night when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues. Keith has been out nearly four weeks after having surgery on his right knee (meniscus) while Rozsival has been sidelined about six months from a fractured left ankle. The addition of the two, especially Keith given all of his responsibilities, is a welcome one.

“He should enhance all situational plays, power play, penalty killing, 5-on-5, important minutes, first and last shifts of periods and games. A lot of times he’s a key factor in all those critical shifts,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Keith. “It’s a big void. Defensively I didn’t think we were bad in that stretch but certainly his presence makes a big difference.”

[MORE - Rozsival's road back] 

Keith was paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson in Friday’s practice. Rozsival was paired with Trevor Daley and Brent Seabrook was withTrevor van Riemsdyk. Quenneville said the team will monitor Keith’s minutes as he goes on Saturday night. Asked if he’s concerned about Keith playing in the back-to-back this weekend, Quenneville said he’ll see how things go in St. Louis.

“It’s one game at a time but he seems good, seems energized, good enthusiasm out here today and can help our lineup as well,” Quenneville said.

Rozsival will likely be monitored minutes-wise, too. The 37-year-old has not played since May, when he suffered his fractured ankle in Game 4 against the Minnesota Wild.

With Keith officially coming off long-term injured reserve in the afternoon, Viktor Svedberg was reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs. Erik Gustafsson was already sent there when Rozsival was taken off LTIR on Friday morning.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks have struggled for consistency in this early season. They’ve squandered a lot of points. Bringing back two defensemen can only help them.


• Based on Friday’s practice, it appears Andrew Desjardins could be a scratch against the Blues. Ryan Garbutt looks to be back in; he skated on the fourth line with Brandon Mashinter and Tanner Kero.

• Corey Crawford will start against the Blues.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: