Blackhawks

Blackhawks: David Rundblad will replace Michal Rozsival

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Blackhawks: David Rundblad will replace Michal Rozsival

David Rundblad probably had the same look on his face that most did upon seeing Michal Rozsival fracture his left ankle on Thursday night. It was enough to make anyone wince.

“I just felt really sorry for Rozy,” Rundblad said on Sunday. “He’s been playing really good so far. That injury, too, it’s just painful to watch. I just feel bad for him.”

At the same time, injuries are part of any hockey regular- or postseason — so are the opportunities for others that come from those injuries. So with Rozsival out, Rundblad is in.

Rundblad will take Rozsival’s place when the Blackhawks begin the Western Conference Finals. When the next round begins is still up in the air — three other second-round series are still in progress, including Anaheim-Calgary (Game 5 between those two is tonight). Until then, Rundblad will get in a few more practices to get prepared, which he says will keep the rust factor low.

[RELATED: Michal Rozsival lost for the season]

“Especially if you get a couple of practices like this, it’s pretty quick to get into it again,” Rundblad said. "I’ve just got to try to do everything game-like, even in practices. It won’t take that long.”

Rundblad is more of an offensive defenseman; he had three goals and 11 assists in 49 games this season. Coach Joel Quenneville said Rundblad won’t have a problem on the other side of the puck.

“I think he's been fine in his own end,” Quenneville said. “I think offensively he has some presence as well. He has some direct plays entering his own zone. Just make sure that you make the simple and the safe play and the obvious play.”

When Rundblad does play, it’ll be his first game in more than a month — he last played on April 11 vs. the Colorado Avalanche. He’ll have a familiar partner in Duncan Keith; the two played together a few times this season.

While Rundblad is coming in for Rozsival, will he truly replace Rozsival? Will he log the same amount of minutes? Rozsival, who had a solid second round, was playing anywhere from 15-18 minutes a night. The Blackhawks leaned heavily on their top four defensemen — Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson — after Rozsival was hurt on Thursday night. Kimmo Timonen has played limited time, recording 5-9 minutes through most of the playoff games. Whether or not he logs more time remains to be seen.

It won’t be surprising if the top four still take a bulk of the minutes moving forward. Duncan Keith, who leads the Blackhawks in ice time this postseason (30 minutes, 37 seconds per game), said they’re ready to do play more.

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“I think every game is different and how we play each series is different,” he said. “We have guys that are capable of playing a lot of minutes and guys that are capable of stepping up and playing when they get asked to play.”

Asked about how much Rundblad will play, Quenneville said, “he's gonna come in and play and minutes are dictated by how he plays and how the score of the game goes. Other guys are accustomed to playing significant minutes. Every game's gonna be different, but his play and the game and thescore will play a lot into it.”

Rundblad hated to see a teammate get hurt. At the same time he knows he has to do something with this opportunity.

“Of course, you always want to help the team and play as well as you can,” he said. “Games are so tight in the playoffs, there’s not much room for mistakes out there. I’ll just try to keep it simple and play as quick as I can.”

BRIEF NOTES

  • Andrew Desjardins did not practice today due to illness. Joakim Nordstrom took his place on the fourth line at practice.

  • Defenseman Michael Paliotta, who the Blackhawks signed late in the regular season, did not practice on Sunday. Quenneville said Paliotta’s gone home to train.

 

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!