Defensive depth is one of the strengths of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. This season, however, the formula was changed with the addition of Michael Kostka, meaning that the team would carry eight defensemen and continue to pair their defenseman based on their style of play.
Eight defensemen also meant that coach Joel Quenneville would be giving veteran Michal Rozsival plenty of rest as the season wore on, as the team did last season to much success. And while the unforgiving early schedule, coupled with an injury to Kostka, challenged this season-long game plan, the Blackhawks can now begin to alternate Rozsival more frequently with Kostka and Sheldon Brookbank.
This season, the 35-year-old Czech defender has played in 21 of the team’s 38 games alongside Nick Leddy, right on track with the 27 games he played in the shortened 48 regular season last year.
What could also benefit the organization with their plan to rest Rozsival for the playoffs is his status on the Czech Republic Olympic roster. Per NHL.com, Rozsival is slated to be one of the defenseman on the outside looking in when Olympic rosters are announced, meaning he should have less wear and tear on him once the playoffs begin.
While Rozsival is still a complete defenseman, the Blackhawks should continue to cycle in Brookbank and Kostka, depending on the matchup. Thanks to an Olympic break coupled with a lighter second half schedule, Rozsival will be perfectly healthy when the Blackhawks need him to be.
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