After Michal Rozsival went down for the rest of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks were left with questions on their back end. On Sunday, David Rundblad was given his first career playoff start in Anaheim. Runblad’s performance was certainly not his best. The young blue-liner was on the ice for the first two Anaheim goals and was given just 10:47 of ice-time. With a shaky performance in the 4-1 loss at the expense of the Ducks, it seems the Blackhawks will be going back to the drawing board. During Monday’s practice, the Blackhawks shook up the defensive pairings.
Cumiskey in for Rundblad, if practice tells us anything. Don't know if that's a solution or (maybe) just less of a problem. #Blackhawks
— Tracey Myers (@Tramyers_NHL) May 18, 2015
As CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers reports, the Blackhawks seem to be preparing to start Kyle Cumiskey in replace of Rundblad. During practice, Cumiskey was paired up with Johnny Oduya. Cumiskey spent most of the season in the AHL with the Rockford Icehogs. He contributed 20 points in 54 games with Rockford, but was also called up and played seven games for the Blackhawks during the regular season. The 28 year old seems to be eager to get his first action of the post-season.
Kyle Cumiskey: "It's a huge game to get thrown into. I’m sure I’ll be nervous, but excited at the same time." #Blackhawks
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) May 18, 2015
Cumiskey has limited NHL-experience, but played a few seasons for the Colorado Avalanche and even made six starts in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. An interesting note is that Cumiskey signed a deal with the Anaheim Ducks in 2013, but failed to make the roster on opening night. After spending a portion of the season with their AHL affiliate, he decided to terminate the contract and signed for a hockey club in Sweden. On Tuesday, Cumiskey could make his seventh career Stanley Cup playoff start against the last NHL organization he parted ways with.
The Big Four Defensemen
The Blackhawks will be hoping to squeeze as many minutes from Cumiskey as possible on Tuesday. The ‘Hawks have relied heavily on their top four defensemen throughout the playoffs, and it was evident in Sunday’s loss. In addition to Runblad receiving a mere 10:47 of ice-time, veteran Kimmo Timmonen was only on the ice for 5:15. On the other end of the spectrum, Duncan Keith was on the ice for 28 minutes. Brent Seabrook was on the ice for almost 26 minutes. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya saw a combined 42 minutes as well.
Many thought that the Blackhawks had more depth than the Ducks, but the first game definitely showed otherwise. If Cumiskey can step in and contribute some big minutes on the blue line, the Blackhawks will have more success on Tuesday night.