CHICAGO (AP) — Defenseman David Rundblad is expected to take the place of the injured Michal Rozsival when the Blackhawks open the Western Conference finals.
The 24-year-old Rundblad has never appeared in an NHL playoff game. During the regular season, he skated in 49 games, averaging 12:48 minutes. He had three goals and 11 assists and was a plus-17.
“He’s going to come in and play, and minutes are dictated by how he plays and how the score of the game goes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Other (defensemen) are accustomed to playing significant minutes.
“Every game’s going to be different.”
Rundblad, acquired in a trade from Phoenix in March 2014, was paired in practice on Sunday with star Duncan Keith, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman last season. Keith ranks second among all players in the 2015 postseason with an average of 30:37 minutes of ice time per game.
“Of course, I’m really excited,” Rundblad said. “(Keith) is one of the best D-men in the league, so it’s pretty easy to play with him, since he’s such a good player and he’ll be helping me a lot out there.”
Rundblad added he’ll be ready for his first taste of up-tempo postseason play.
“You’ve just got to keep it simple,” he said, “especially now when I haven’t been playing.
“It’s way more faster, way more intense in the playoffs than the regular season. I think I’ve just got to go out there and just be quick and do everything quick.”
Keith and Rundblad were paired occasionally in the regular season.
“He’s pretty calm,” Keith said. “Sometimes he might have to calm me down.”
Rozsival has been the Blackhawks’ fifth defenseman behind the core of Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya. He broke his left ankle in the second period of Chicago’s 4-3 win at Minnesota on Thursday that completed a sweep of the Wild. The Blackhawks await the winner of the series between Anaheim and Calgary.
Rozsival averaged 17 1/2 minutes through Chicago’s first 10 playoff games. He is expected to undergo surgery and miss the rest of the postseason.
Quenneville also said it’s possible that he’ll extend the ice time of the Blackhawks top four defensemen as well as No. 6 defenseman Kimmo Timonen.
“I think it’s kind of the same philosophy (we) always have,” Quenneville said. “You’re playing to win that game.”
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.