No Duncan Keith. No problem.
The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the L.A. Kings 3-2 Thursday night, taking a 3-1 series lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference final, with defenseman Michal Rozsival making a key contribution and logging some heavy minutes.
With Keith suspended one game for slashing Kings’ forward Jeff Carter in the face in Game 3 of the series, the 34-year-old Rozsival had 25:28 of ice time in Game 4.
Consider this: he hadn’t played more than 16 minutes in a game this series, until Thursday.
In Game 4, he didn’t register a point, had only one shot on goal and had an even rating. But the Blackhawks got the win, pushing the defending Stanley Cup champs to the brink of elimination.
“Any time you get over 20 minutes, you know you played more than 20 minutes,” Rozsival told NHL.com after the win.
“I was feeling tired, obviously, because I wasn’t used to playing that much, but the excitement of the game and everything that surrounds it gives you an extra energy boost, definitely.
“I never feel tired after a win. After a loss I feel tired. I don’t care how much I play; if we win I feel great.”
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.