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.
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“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.”
- 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.