The Blackhawks and Wings met in a game which had a little of everything last night. The Hawks prevailed in the end, despite being down 3-1 behind a bunch of prospects from the Detroit system. A lack of zoned coverage the culprit for the mid-game deficit. But, even worse than coverage issues, the Hawks left last nights game with a pathetic total of 8 hits. A strong reason for the 3 injuries that filled the evening, taking the focus away from the buzz around the center position.
There was a decent amount of hype going into this scrimmage. Hossa was making his first appearances, and Kane was having a go at centering a line with him, who was also making his season debut. The result was promising, Kane scored, looked good as the quarterback hanging a bit deeper in the defensive zone and even made a few big defensive plays. Hossa also scored despite looking a tad offensively lost in Yonkers. Never-mind that Kane could have netted a few more, blowing some primo scoring opportunities is allowed in game 1 of the new year.
Still, 8 hits were all the Hawks could muster, and it hurt them bad. And sure, the Hawks battled back to win a game they should have more easily won, but they also left the night with a thinner roster. Smith and Stalberg both left the game prematurely, and Bolland is listed day to day for some reason.
Stalberg suffered the so called "lower body injury," hobbling off the ice looking to nurse his left leg and never to return. Q said that he is likely to miss 3 weeks and added that the organization had been happy with his play so far.
Later, Ben Smith suffered a very deliberately high hit from Detroit's Brendan Smith who is looking at a suspension from a league he was unlikely to be skating for by the beginning of the regular season anyway. Obviously concussed from the hit, Ben moved very little for a minute while Seabrook tried to supply some justice for his fallen teammate. Q stated that there is "no time line" for Ben's return.
The hit and resulting concussion could sideline Ben for a while and it came the same night of a hard fought game tying goal from the determined winger. I was commenting on how his determination and frequent ability to be in the right place at the right time was earning him the spot over breakout performer Brandon Saad to a friend just before the hit.
Regardless of how good Saad has looked, it was a good bet that he would be spending some time down in Rockfrod before making an appearance in a regular season game. Until now. He is now a decent candidate for the spot left open by Stalberg and Smith. He and Olesz, who looked best in the Edmonton game and lack luster since, will have to battle out for the spot next to Captain Toews opening night.
The 3 injuries also make room for a possible spot at center. Brandon Pirri might have just gotten his chance to show the big guys what he can do during regular season play. Apparently Bolland's effort to bulk up in an attempt to avoid injury did not quite pan out like he anticipated.
So, if you missed the game and want to know a few more specifics beyond the injury count. Here is a little summary. The important elements to focus on were the lack of coverage, and the PP production. The defensive game was hurting for the Hawks last night, as it has been since hoisting the cup. Usually not a big deal for a preseason game, but the Hawks had their big guns out last night. No excuse.
Missed coverage by O'Donnel and Seabrook cost the Hawks a goal each. It was the only blunder from Seabs all night, but O'Donnel had a few others despite looking okay on his feet for most of the game. I was not happy with the choice to pair Leddy with Keith and then Seabs with Hjalmer. Some switching there would make me a happy blogger.
Hjalmer had another impressive night, showing more than once why he is a defensive giant and even proving some time spent practicing his offensive skills. I also liked what I saw out of Lepisto again. Although he made a few mistakes in his own end, he also had some big moments there, and proved an offensive threat often.
A success last night, beyond winning the game, was the powerplay production. Smith's goal was the only tally at even strength . This leaves us with a total of 3 PP goals. Not too shabby. I will take it as a sign for future prosperity. Kane, Hossa, and Seabrook all participating in that stat. And with that I bid you good-day with the news that Sharp could return to practice this Friday.