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.