ST. LOUIS- I don’t want to put words in anybody’s mouth, but it might have finally happened. David Rundblad might have officially forced Coach Joel Quenneville’s hand, and not in a positive way for the 24 year old Swede. For the Hawks on the other hand, it just might be the blessing in disguise their D-Corps has been waiting for.
The 6’2″ 190 lbs defenseman was taken 17th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2009 draft and though his numbers are solid through his 32 games this year (3G, 7A, +14) – he just might not fit into the Blackhawks’ bigger picture. It’s not to say that Rundblad isn’t talented, his plus +14 Corsi rating indicates he’s confident and careful with the puck. The sad and frustrating part is seeing Rundblad look at times as if he’s just lost in his own end – worse, as confident and particular as he may be with the puck, he’s even less without it.
“I just wanted to play… So I’d play wherever he wanted me to.”- David Rundblad to Mark Lazerus
In the last five games Rundblad has 1 assist and has an even Corsi rating – but in his last two, he’s posted a minus -2 rating and was glued to the bench for the entirety of the third period Friday in the Hawks OT win at Winnipeg. It’s moments like his first period lapse in judgement that led to a turnover, that led to the Jets jumping out to a one goal lead – it’s moments like that, that make me cringe. It moments such as those, that I see his time in Chicago dwindling – not to mention on the ice. Q wouldn’t make a change heading into the “Show Me” state this morning, but it is certainly time for Rundblad to show more than just something… he needs to start making contributions.
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But what if he doesn’t? The truth in the matter is not only Trevor VanRiemsdyk’s injury, but that Michael Rosival could really use a relaxing February and early March to prepare for the post-season. Rosival is a serious veteran and a talented blue-liner, he just has a few miles on him. That’s not a problem at all, as long as Q doesn’t ride him into the ground like, say… Thibodeau might. Rosival can make a positive impact and help carry a third line with TVR should he have to in April and May, but he will need to be healthy to do so. I like Michael Handzus, but we saw this same story last season – that’s a re-run the Hawks don’t need to see.
So if not Rundblad, who? The Hawks are in need of another trustworthy blue-liner capable of holding the attention of Quenneville long enough to give Rosival some nights off, and eventually form a decent bond with TVR when he returns.
Da Windy City
Tim Erixon isn’t a bad player, but has been a healthy scratch for most his time in Chicago. Given, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the Hawks hoped to see Rundblad and Erixon gel as they had earlier in their careers in Sweden. But it’s evident Q’s cautious when stacking his 3rd pairing with untested and new talent. Maybe this bond and pairing can find a way to work for Rosival to get his rest, maybe they don’t – probably won’t even get the chance.
So the next question, who does that leave?