Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival will miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after sustaining a fractured left ankle in Game 4 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild.
"He will require surgery to repair it. He is not expected to return to full hockey activity until next season," the Blackhawks said in a statement Friday.
In the second period, Rozsival fell awkwardly in the neutral zone while skating backward to defend Wild forward Thomas Vanek after Nino Niederreiter lifted the puck from the Minnesota end into the Chicago zone. Play continued for 14 seconds with Rozsival unable to get up, and Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made a right-pad save to deny Vanek on a breakaway.
Rozsival could not put weight on his left leg and needed help getting off the ice and to the locker room with 6:37 remaining.
"You hate to see your teammates in pain like that," Chicago left wing Patrick Sharp said.
The Blackhawks used primarily five defensemen in sweeping the series, spotting 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen. Following Rozsival's injury, coach Joel Quenneville pared the playing group to basically the top four in the third period. Timonen played seven shifts after Rozsival was injured, three in the third period for a total of 1:43. He finished the game with 8:25 in ice time.
Quenneville didn't reveal Thursday what he plans to do, but it's likely David Rundblad will get the first opportunity to replace Rozsival. The Blackhawks also have Kyle Cumiskey and rookie Michael Paliotta as options.
Rozsival played 7:16 in Game 4 and was averaging 18:34 playing mostly with Keith on the top pairing through the first two series. Expect a more physical tax on the top four of Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya.
"You've just got to look at the guys who played the big minutes tonight," Quenneville said. "They were rock solid."
Keith said he and the others will be ready to play as many minutes as needed in the Western Conference Final, against either the Anaheim Ducks or Calgary Flames.
"Whatever happens ... happens," Keith said. "I've played with different guys the whole year and over the last few years. We're all in good shape, obviously. We've just got to be smart."