D-man Rozsival surprises with some ‘O’
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago Blackhawks Vs Sty. Louis Blues. 1 St-Period Action. Chicago Blackhawks No.25 Viktoe Stalberg battles with St. Louis Blues No. 27 Alex Pietrangelo. January 22, 2013 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
During training camp, Michal Rozsival said he could be valuable to the Blackhawks as a veteran defensive presence and a penalty killer, and he noted quite clearly that he wasn’t signed to look for offense. But as he found out Sunday night in Phoenix, when the Hawks forwards are clicking, sometimes the offense finds you.
“It’s not as much what I do, but what the forwards do,” Rozsival said Tuesday morning after his two-assist effort against his old team, the Coyotes. “It’s a pretty good group of forwards here. They don’t need much.”
That said, Rozsival turned a few heads with his slick centering pass through two Phoenix defenders that led to Marian Hossa’s first goal of the night in the second period. But even on that one, Hossa had to make a nifty move to get past Lauri Korpikoski before wristing a shot past Mike Smith.
“Even on that, though, Hossa had to make another move, there was a guy in front of him,” Rozsival said. “They just need a little bit, and they can put it in the back of the net.”
With Steve Montador sidelined with a concussion, the sixth defenseman spot each day is an open competition between the only two newcomers on the roster — Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank. Brookbank got the start in the opener, while Rozsival got the chance to play his former team. Rozsival got the nod again Tuesday night against the Blues, as coach Joel Quenneville stuck with the hot hand.
“We think that [with] the addition of him and Brookie, we’ve got guys who can play and they can play meaningful minutes and they can play against top lines,” Quenne-ville said. “That’s going to make us a better team as we go along.”
The Hawks traded a seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft to Calgary for journeyman goaltender Henrik Karlsson on Monday. Karlsson was sent down to Rockford.
“It gives us some organizational depth at that position; we know the importance of it,” Quenne-ville said. “He’s a big guy and he’s played some NHL games.”
He’ll likely get a chance to play right away, as the IceHogs’ No. 1
goaltender, Carter Hutton, is dealing with an injury sustained during a massive bench-clearing brawl against Grand Rapids on Saturday night. Hutton was ejected after the fight and didn’t play Monday night.
“I don’t think the severity of it is that bad,” Quenneville said.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said the atmosphere at the United Center is among the best in the league since the Hawks’ resurgence a few years ago.
“Probably in the Western Conference, this is THE building to come and play in,” he said. “This is kind of the ‘it’ city to come and play in. I think everybody gets excited to come and play here.”
The Blues’ own resurgence last season helped rekindle their rivalry with the Blackhawks. But the UC has been something of a house of horrors for St. Louis, which has lost seven straight dating back to the 2009-10 season — two in shootouts and two in overtime.
“We usually get our ass kicked in this building,” he said.