Friday May 8th, 2015

The Blackhawks confirmed on Friday what everyone suspected on Thursday night. Veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival is out for the rest of the playoffs.

“Michal Rozsival suffered a fractured left ankle during the second period of last night's game,” head team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement. “He will require surgery to repair it. He is not expected to return to full hockey activity until next season.”

Rozsival faced his share of criticism this season—his decision-making leans toward the adventurous—but he’s a proven commodity who has been reasonably reliable while playing limited minutes on the third pair and occasional shifts alongside Duncan Keith when Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson are winded. Whatever his flaws, he’s a better option than whoever the Hawks have to replace him.

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So who fills those minutes? Coach Joel Quenneville has three options at his disposal: David Rundblad, Kyle Cumiskey and Michael Paliotta.

Paliotta, the 2011 third rounder who signed with the team this spring, was named the best defensive defenseman in Hockey East. That accolade will look great on the back of his hockey card, but it won’t mean much against a hard forechecking opponent like the Ducks or Flames. With less than 15 minutes of real NHL experience to his credit, he’s the last resort.

Cumiskey offers mobility and decent transition skills and can handle a reasonable work load, averaging 15 minutes in his past four regular season starts. He’s an option, but he’s also a lefty.

Rundblad though is a righthanded shot, which makes him a better fit with the left-shooting Keith. And they share some familiarity, having skated almost 200 minutes together this season. He’s also a solid puck mover.

Ideally, the player who steps in will fill the same type of role as the more defensively-minded Rozsival, but the depth chart only has what it has. It’ll take some adjusting, and maybe a bit more work for the team’s top four, but the Hawks can handle it.

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