Michal Rozsival ready to take whatever role Blackhawks give him

Michal Rozsival ready to take whatever role Blackhawks give him

Michal Rozsival didn’t think he’d be back this season.

The veteran defenseman didn’t know what the future held for him, but he trained as if he’d get a chance somewhere. And while he knows he may have a different role with the Blackhawks than he has in years past, he’s happy to do whatever the team asks.

“Obviously with my age, I’ve been in this role before. My last two or three years here I didn’t know what my role will be. But always told the coaches and management that I’ll play and if they need me I’m ready,” said Rozsival following the Blackhawks’ opening day of training camp on Friday. “I’m ready to do what they want me to do, whether it’s play 20 games, 30, 40 or 50 games.”

The Blackhawks’ defensive depth is stronger this season, thanks in large part to the Blackhawks signing Brian Campbell this offseason. Trevor van Riemsdyk and Erik Gustafsson gained experience last year and the Blackhawks hope to see Michal Kempny, signed this offseason, make an impact.

General manager Stan Bowman, speaking in early July, said, “Rozsival’s at a different stage but he brings a lot to the table. His role won’t be the role it was in previous years in terms of minutes or games but he can still play.” Rozsival can also help fellow Czech Kempny adjust to his new home and language. Rozsival said he doesn’t know Kempny very well yet but has seen him play.

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“I feel he’s a good hockey player and he’s had some good seasons in Europe. So I’m just waiting to see what it’ll be like when he gets here and how he’s going to adjust,” Rozsival said. “But he’s a good hockey player so I’m thinking he won’t have a problem adjusting.”

Asked if he was willing to be a translator for Kempny, Rozsival said, “I’ll do my best, for sure.”

First impressions

With several players still at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, the Blackhawks coaches saw what some of the prospects had to offer on Friday. One to watch for is Alexandre Fortin. A native of Quebec, Fortin impressed during the Blackhawks’ prospect camp this summer. He scored a goal in the team’s scrimmage today.

“Nice set of hands,” said assistant coach Mike Kitchen of Fortin. “He’s here on a tryout so we’ll keep a close eye on him. He had a good day today. Good speed, stick. We’ll keep a close eye.”

Not here yet

Patrick Kane, Ville Pokka and Kempny were not at Friday’s training camp opener. Kitchen said the three may get some down time before joining the Blackhawks.

“We’re just going to give them some time off, play it by ear,” he said. “They’ve been going since September 1, and even prior to that. We have to make sure we say to them, if they need time [take it], especially Kane with the amount of time he gets with us, the responsibility and what he went through at the World Cup. Guys like Pokka and Kempny might want to get on the ice a little bit earlier, although Patrick’s a rink rat and loves to be on the ice. That may be a coach’s choice.”

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's 250th win puts him in elite company


Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's 250th win puts him in elite company

Corey Crawford captured a coveted goalie milestone with another solid performance in a 2-1 shootout victory for the Blackhawks on Friday in New Jersey. The Hawks (12-12-5) beat the Atlantic division-leading Bruins 4-3 in overtime in Boston with Robin Lehner in net on Thursday before playing the Devils, last in the Metropolitan, Friday with Crawford starting. 

"It's important to try to climb back up in the standings," Crawford said following the game. "We had a few tough games, it seems like it's been pretty streaky the first quarter of the season, but when we're playing well I think we're pretty tough to beat. We just got to try to find that game as much as possible. 

"But that was obviously a big win to start it and against one of the best teams in the league (the Bruins) and having a big lead too, going late into the third period, and then a team that's a little bit lower in the standings (the Devils), but you still have to come out hard and play, no games are easy. It was pretty competitive out there but it's nice to find a way to win." 

The two-time Stanley Cup champ saved 29 of 30 shots through overtime, including a Miles Wood breakaway with 11 seconds remaining in the second period and the game tied 1-1. He also stopped three of five New Jersey Devils shooters including Taylor Hall and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes in the shootout. 

Crawford became the 59th goalie in NHL history to record 250 wins. The 34-year-old is one of 13 active NHL goalies and just the third Hawks netminder to reach the milestone (Glen Hall: 276, Tony Esposito: 418).

Crawford is 250-149-52 in 464 games with the Blackhawks and has 26 shutouts. 

5 Takeaways: Kirby Dach leads Blackhawks to 2-1 win in shootout vs. Devils


5 Takeaways: Kirby Dach leads Blackhawks to 2-1 win in shootout vs. Devils

The Blackhawks won 2-1 against the New Jersey Devils in a shootout on Friday. Here are five takeaways:

Top to bottom

The Hawks were looking to establish some momentum in Jersey following a big win Thursday in Boston. Jonathan Toews scored in overtime and Alex DeBrincat ended a 12-game goal drought to help the Hawks to a 4-3 OT win over the Bruins, ending the Blackhawks' 3-game losing streak in which they were outscored 16-5. 

Going from facing the first place team in the Atlantic division (second in the NHL) on Thursday to the last place team in the Metropolitan division (second to last in the league) on Friday proved to be tougher than imagined. 

Alex DeBrincat scored the lone regulation goal for Chicago and Kirby Dach, the No. 3 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, scored the final goal of the shootout and set up No. 1 pick Jack Hughes to get stopped by Corey Crawford for the 2-1 final score. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also scored in the shootout for the Blackhawks.

Crow 250

Corey Crawford won his 250th NHL game on Friday. The two-time Stanley Cup champ is the 59th goalie in NHL history to reach the milestone and one of 13 active netminders to do so. The 34-year-old is the third goalie to reach 250 wins with the Blackhawks. 

Crawford saved 29 of 30 New Jersey shots ahead of the shootout. 

Cat on the prowl 

DeBrincat scored his second goal in two games after not lighting the lamp in his previous 12. This is a good sign for the forward, who is known to score in bunches.

Gilbert getting noticed

Dennis Gilbert skated in his second straight game with the Hawks with Olli Maatta (flu-like symptoms) missing both contents on the road trip. Gilbert had a solid game in Boston Thursday and improved his case Friday, putting a big hit on Hughes then having a decent showing after answering the bell with Wayne Simmonds.

Kane watch

Kane tied Andy Bathgate for 93rd on the NHL career points list (973), assisting on DeBrincat's second period goal.