David Rundblad has played one game in eight weeks, and it was kind of a disaster. So, yeah, maybe it’s a little daunting to walk into Game 6 tonight with the Blackhawks facing elimination in the Western Conference final.
“Maybe it’s not the easiest thing,” Rundblad said following Wednesday’s morning skate. “But it’s still exciting. And I’d rather play games than bag skate. If I play tonight, I’ll be excited.”
It’s all but certain Rundblad will indeed play. He said Joel Quenneville told him to “come ready” to the rink tonight, though Quenneville only said later that he “could’ play. Kimmo Timonen skated twice as long as his teammates at the morning skate, a sure-fire sign that he’ll be a scratch, and rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk won’t be in the lineup, either.
So Rundblad will get a chance to redeem himself after his mistakes led directly to two Anaheim Ducks goals in a 4-1 loss in Game 1 on May 17. On the first goal of the game, he was beaten at the blue line and then knocked down in the crease. On the second goal, a weak Rundblad pass led to a Kyle Palmieri goal, leaving Rundblad slamming his stick on the post in frustration.
“I had a rough first game, but if I play tonight, I want to go out there and be better,” Rundblad said. “Be quicker, I think that’s the biggest thing. Be quicker, move the puck quicker. I think that will help me out a lot, if I just do that.”
The 40-year-old Timonen has taken a beating from the physical Ducks, who have targeted him throughout the series, which they can close out with a victory tonight. He has averaged less than eight minutes per 60 in the series, and has never been able to regain his All-Star form after being sidelined for 10 months with blood clots in his lungs and leg. The Hawks traded a second-round pick this season and a conditional pick (that is currently a third-rounder) next season for Timonen on Feb. 27.
“He’s been useful in ways,” Quenneville said. “I think you like his experience around the net. Defensively, he’s got a good presence, good understanding, a good stick. He keeps it simple. So I think that reliability has been useful.”
Boudreau said the Ducks wouldn’t be going out of their way to exploit Rundblad.
“We just do what we do,” he said. “I don’t think you can sit there and make the guys focus on one individual, unless it’s Toews or Kane. No, we’ll just play how we play and hopefully it works.”