Blackhawks News

Michal Rozsival and Changing Direction

By Chris Schubert
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Feb 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival (32) with the puck during the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Something a little different this week, as it’s back to a column format to talk about something that has been bugging me for a while now.

Most of those that will read this article probably browse the rest of the internet, then you all know about the sentiment about Michal Rozsival out their in Blackhawks blogging world. I am also among the group of people that believe Michal Rozsival is one of the bigger, glaring problems that the Hawks have this season.

Now Rozsival is far from their own problem (I’m looking at you Andrew Shaw), but the defense has been far from Stanley Cup form this season and Rozsival contributes a lot to that.

Continuing up the chain of command, Joel Quenneville’s love for veterans and trotting their old, ancient bodies out for 13-16 minutes again is beyond absurd. Apparently, according to Q himself, these veterans do the little things right. Things that won’t show up in the box score (just a hunch he’s talking about Corsi here). That’s his reasoning for playing a guy like Rozsival over a youngster with promise (David Rundblad or Tim Erixon, pick whichever you prefer).

It doesn’t help when the front office handed Rozsival a two-year contract, with some form of a no-movement clause. With Johnny Oduya being out and the Hawks looking for defensive help, being stuck with Rozsival’s contract and body limits what creativity the front office can come up with.

Back to that Corsi reference made just before. It’s one of the driving forces behind the anti-Rozsival movement. The advance numbers don’t help Rozsival’s case, although he doesn’t really past the eye test either. Don’t believe me? Watch the 3rd period of the Hawks most recent loss to the Panthers. A case could be made that he is a key factor in both of those goals.

Duncan Keith has had the terrible task this year of being paired with Rozsival a lot (probably to keep him from fully imploding, which based on his play he’s pretty close to). Last night, Keith was a +8 in Corsi events which is one of his better games of recent memory. It just so happens that Rozsival was a healthy scratch. One could say it was a coincidence, but I say a trend could emerge here if they stick to it. Most of Keith’s shifts came with one of those youngster with promise, David Rundblad and everything seemed to go smoothly.

Look one game isn’t a enough to tell how much better the Hawks defense is with Rozsival taking the game in from the stands, but it is something to look out for going forward. It’s been mentioned that Hawks are have trouble with shot suppression and their luck at the other end of the ice is a little bad at the moment. The latter will fix itself over time, the question is whether or not it will happen in time for the Hawks to compete in the postseason. The former is something that has been a problem all year and can’t be fixed over night. Sitting an aging veteran who’s done more harm than good (and has gotten some bad luck himself), is the first step towards changing in the right direction.

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