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Rozsival returns to offensive ways

2/28/2013
Michal Rozsival has seven points in nine games this season. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Like most defensemen, the Chicago Blackhawks' Michal Rozsival enjoys getting the occasional offensive opportunity.

Rozsival was given those chances previously while with the New York Rangers, and he took advantage by registering 30-plus points in four consecutive seasons. But in the past few years, he wasn't asked to do as much offensively and his point totals have slipped.

Now in his first season with the Blackhawks, Rozsival finds himself again involved offensively, and again he's producing. He has four assists in the past four games and has seven points in nine games this season.

"To tell you the truth, the last few years the teams that I played on it was more of a defensive role," Rozsival said Wednesday. "But on this team, it's just the way this team is playing. We all want to contribute any way we can.

"The coaches are encouraging us to support the offense. They just kind of let us play. We want to do our job defensively, and if there's the right moment and right time to jump in the offense, that's the way they want you to do it."

Rozsival jumped into the offense with two assists on the Blackhawks' final two goals in their 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. He also had an assist on the Blackhawks' game-winning goal in their 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 22, and he contributed an assist on the team's first goal in their 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 19.

Rozsival's offense has helped him receive more consistent playing time lately. He suffered an injury early in the season and missed time. He and Sheldon Brookbank, who were both signed as free agents in the offseason, took turns as healthy scratches until recently. Rozsival has since started the last four games on the third defensive pairing.

"(Rozsival's) been a nice fit for us," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "(Brookbank) as well has been a real nice addition. We got a tough decision sometimes who's playing there. In (Rozsival's) case, I think he's got a lot more patience with the puck maybe than (any) player we've had there in the past.

"(Rozsival) can play against anybody and the top minutes as well. It's a nice (situation,) kind of like we can say we can roll four forward lines, we can roll three sets of defensive pairs. I think he gives us another experienced defenseman offensively (and) has a nice contribution as well as being a top defender."

For Rozsival, it's about whatever the Blackhawks need him to do. He just wants to be a part of their success.

"Any time you can contribute whether it's blocked shots or defensive play or having an assist or do something offensively, you feel good about yourself," said Rozsival, who has a plus-minus rating of plus-9. "It gives you a little more confidence.

"It always gives a lot of confidence to everybody, for me for sure, playing on a team like this with the good start of the season we have. Just kind of ride the wave here and keep focused and stay focused because you don't want to take any days off now, especially now, teams will be ready for us."