It was a gruesome scene in Game Four of Chicago’s best-of-seven series against the Minnesota Wild as defenceman Michal Rozsival broke his left ankle. Most have already seen the replays dozens of times.
It happened in the second period as the blueliner fell awkwardly in the neutral zone while skating backward. Rozsival couldn’t put any weight on his left leg and now word has come out that he’ll require surgery to repair it. That’s hardly surprising.
“You hate to see your teammates in pain like that,” Chicago’s Patrick Sharp said after the game.
The Blackhawks swept the Wild in Game Four and will now have to make some adjustments as they prepare for the Western Conference Final. Life without Rozsival won’t be impossible, but coach Joel Quenneville will have some tinkering to do.
Chicago was rolling out five defenceman routinely. Kimmo Timonen, doing his best to keep up, was trimmed down to 5:44 in Game Three. After Rozsival went down in Game Four, the 40-year-old was up to 8:25 – still a couple minutes off his totals from Game One.
For the most part, that means the Blackhawks are anchored by Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya, and Brent Seabrook. Keith and Rozsival were a pair, which means more adjustments are in play.
Right now, it’s looking like David Rundblad will get the call. The 24-year-old Swede played in 49 regular season games with Chicago and put up 14 points. He was good for 17 minutes or so in his last NHL start in April against the Avalanche, so one has to wonder what kind of minutes Quenneville has in mind. Obviously, Keith will continue to shoulder the load no matter who he’s paired with.
As for Rozsival, this sucks. The 36-year-old may have a few more years in the tank or he may hang them up, especially if this injury is on the severe side. Sometimes things on the ice look worse than they really are, but sometimes the devastation is very real. One has to hope for a full recovery, regardless.
In 10 playoff games this season, Rozsival had one assist and was a minus-two. He’d been knocked around a lot in the regular season for his play, but he’s remained one of the sturdiest playoff defenceman Chicago has to offer.