Threero of the Week: La Vie en Rozsival

by J.R.

Until the end of the Where Angels Fear to Tread game between Chicago and Nashville, I’d never given much thought to Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival.

I suspect the big Czech would be fine with that. He’s the kind of blueliner who does his job quietly and respectfully and would rather not draw too much attention.

But in the waning minutes of overtime, Rozsival had a clear lane to the net from his spot on the point and he let rip a shot which, generously, could be described as threatening, in that it was in the vague direction of the net. It was not apace, it was not speedy, it was not hard. It sputtered and skidded to Pekka Rinne’s pad and, for some reason, he skittered it away, right back to Rosie. Perhaps Rinne knew that putting the puck back on Rozsival’s stick was safer than risking a last-second face-off.

And again, Rozsival locked, loaded and let loose a repeat performance of that powerless attempt. Rinne made the easy save, the clock hit zeroes and it was off to a shooout.

Joel Quenneville, rather famously, doesn’t seem to have much order in his shootout order. It’s odd for a man who can deploy Patricks Kane and Sharp and Jonathan Toews not to think deeply about how to line-up his charges in the skills contest, but if a trainer has the fastest horses going, what does he care which gate they start from?

Bizarrely, this shootout went five rounds. The dazzling skill of the Blackhawks was matched puck-for-puck by the gormless, gawky Predators — whose two goals in the regular session, it should be noted, were weirdos par excellence: a squirter from David Legwand that crawled past Crawford and a flapper from Taylor Beck that sent Corey reeling backward like an 8-year-old in left field.

So Quenneville sent out his secret weapon and I, nervously pacing the room with my young daughter in my arms, turned confidently to my wife and declared that this was the guy whose last two shots were about as dangerous as Estelle Getty in a pillow fight.

And then Rosie did this:

My wife responded with the kind of look usually reserved for spilled red wine on the couch.

When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart

Post-game, I was introduced to Michal Rozsival’s official TV photograph.


Balding. Five o’clock shadow. A half-smile and a shiner, all from a guy who has scored zero goals and yet turned one of the world’s best goalies inside out like a stinky pair of underwear stuffed way at the bottom of the laundry basket.

And when you speak,
Angels sing from above
Everyday words seem to turn
Into love songs

Rozsival spoke to the Trib after the game:

“That’s the one move that I have — that’s all I do,” the defenseman said after helping lift the Blackhawks to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Predators on Monday night at the United Center. “I’ve been kind of lucky in scoring with that move during practice, so I went with it.”

That’s all he’s got, but he’ll give it to you and it’s good enough to win. All while smirking through a shiner.

Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast