BUFFALO, N.Y. — Defenseman David Rundblad tried not to look at his Blackhawks debut Sunday as an audition. But when there are only 18 games left until the playoffs and you’re, at best, likely to play once every three games, it’s hard not to.
“You want to show yourself every day, every game you get to play,” Rundblad said. “And if you don’t play a lot, you might want to do too much and think too much, I guess.’’
Rundblad, acquired from the Coyotes last week, was paired with Nick Leddy. Leddy is usually paired with the more defensive Michal Rozsival or Sheldon Brookbank, but he got a taste of playing with a more offensive player in Michael Kostka.
Rundblad thought it was a good match.
“I think it’s going to work out,” he said. “He’s a really good player and easy to play with. He’s smart, too. So I think we’ll figure it out.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said Rundblad has been getting more comfortable in the Hawks’ system, which is significantly more uptempo than the Coyotes’ style. Rundblad doesn’t know what Quenneville has in mind for his role down the stretch but is trying not to worry about it. He was just happy to be playing his first game since Jan. 22.
“It’s tough to not play as often as you want to, but there’s not much you can do about it,” he said. “Just keep working hard every practice and try to keep the game habits during practice.”
Patrick Kane entered Sunday without a goal in five consecutive games — 11 in a row, counting the Olympics. But he scored in the first period to end the drought.
Kane hinted that fatigue was a factor as the Hawks enter the homestretch but is confident he’ll be back on top of his game by the time the playoffs start in mid-April.
“It’s been a lot of hockey lately,” he said. “You just try to stay as rested and focused as possible. We have a little time here before the playoffs, so get your body ready for that and get your game to where it needs to be. It’s not like you can go into the playoffs and flip a switch and turn it on. I’ll use these last 17 or 18 games to get myself ready for the playoffs.”
Backup goalie Antti Raanta hasn’t played since Jan. 28. With a busy March schedule, though, Quenneville said he’ll play this week at some point — presumably Friday against the Predators, then again during back-to-back sets each of the next two weeks.
“We want to get him some games,” Quenneville said.