Michal Rozsival scratched after rough Game 4 for Blackhawks
BY MARK lazerus Staff Reporter May 11, 2014 10:21PM
Updated: May 12, 2014 12:24AM
After two consecutive losses, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville continued to search for a winning combination. And for the second time this series, he changed his defensive pairings, scratching Michal Rozsival in favor of Sheldon Brookbank.
Brookbank played in Game 3 when Nick Leddy was scratched after falling into Quenneville’s doghouse. On Sunday, it was Rozsival, who played every game during the Stanley Cup run last spring but struggled mightily in Game 4 in Minnesota, committing a few ghastly turnovers, one of which led to a goal.
A common theme this series has been that the Wild are better than expected. But Quenneville was bracing for a fight as soon as the Wild knocked out the division-champion Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 of the first round.
‘‘I thought, down the stretch, they were arguably the top team in the league, and how they beat Colorado was comparable to the way they played,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘They’re hard to play against. They check well, have some team speed, and they’ve got more skill in their lineup than we saw last year. It’s a better team. I’m going to say [they’re on] par to what we thought they’d be — not an easy game, not an easy opponent.’’
Quenneville hesitated to call the Wild’s stifling team game a neutral-zone trap, but it’s close.
‘‘It’s a little bit of everything,’’ he said. ‘‘I think it’s pressure. They’re coming at us hard. There’s not a lot of time, there’s not a lot of space and they’ve got a real tight gap. They don’t give up odd-man breaks, so trying to get through it fast and cleanly and simple is what you’re trying to do.’’
The Hawks entered Sunday with a streak of six consecutive victories in Game 5 of a series tied 2-2 in the Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane era. They clinched each of those series in Game 6.
View from the top
Forward Peter Regin, who played in Game 5, had a different perspective from the press box in the first four games.
‘‘They’re a very tight-checking team,’’ Regin said. ‘‘They don’t give you a whole lot, and a lot of games it seems like you don’t really have any momentum or scoring chances. That’s just the way they play.’’
Contributing: Mark Potash