David Rundblad's removal from lineup a disappointing move
With Michal Rozsival set to replace David Rundblad in the Hawks lineup, we are once again left scratching our heads over the strategy of Joel Quenneville.
One of the more frustrating aspects of the Chicago Blackhawks early in the season has been the questionable decision making by head coach Joel Quenneville. In addition to his typical juggling of the lines, he's made some questionable moves in deploying players as well. Whether we're talking about Andrew Shaw as a second line pivot or the inevitable in-game benching of Jeremy Morin, it can be downright infuriating to watch the man do his thing behind the bench (but, hey, two Cups!).
Tuesday afternoon brought a bit more of that Joel Quenneville flavor to the 2014-15 season, as he decided to remove David Rundblad from the Hawks' lineup in favor of the Blackhawks' resident glacier, in Michal Rozsival. While this isn't likely something that is going to become permanent, as even Q can't expect Rozsival to play each night, it's a frustrating move for a player that was showing large signs of improvement, in Rundblad.
Rundblad had started four straight games for the Blackhawks, going back to the second half of a back-to-back in which they lost a 1-0 tilt to the Winnipeg Jets. Rundblad finished that game with the second highest Corsi% among Blackhawk defenseman, before going off against the Montreal Canadiens later in the week. He recorded two assists and led d-men in the Corsi department. The next two games brought about more of the same.
He's shown impressive growth over the course of this short season, and as small as the sample size may be, it's important to note that this is a player with a pretty decent upside, who hasn't really had a chance to capitalize on his skill set. Which is part of what makes this move by Quenneville so frustrating.
Rozsival hasn't done anything particularly of note this season. He's a minus-2 for the year and doesn't have a point, although you could argue he's more of a physical presence and shot blocker than Rundblad, which really tells you all you need to know, given the guy calling the shots.
The frustrating aspect of this is that Rundblad had been gaining the trust of Quenneville, seeing increased ice time and getting a run at Patrick Sharp's spot on the power play. He's made good decisions with the puck, and when he does make mistakes, he has the ability to get back and compensate, something that Rozsival certainly lacks.
At the end of the day, though, this isn't something worth getting too flustered over. Rundblad will be back in there in due time. It is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that it is a curious decision, however, while at the same time representing another disappointing moment in the decisions of Joel Quenneville, which seem to be growing exponentially as the season wears on (probably a run-on sentence).
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.