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Blackhawks Thu Nov 12 2009

Hawks beat 'Lanche, bad news for Bolland's back

A familiar scene took place at the United Center last night as the Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche battled. For the third time this season, the two evenly-matched teams went to a shootout to determine a winner. This time, it only took 3 shooters for the Hawks to skate away with a 3-2 victory as Jonathon Toews and Patrick Sharp connected in the skills test.

Colorado entered the game tied for the Western Conference lead, and showed why in grabbing an early lead and peppering Cristobal Huet, but the Hawks tied it at 1 with yet another in a long line of pretty goals by Patrick Kane in a physical first that saw center Colin Fraser in a couple of scraps.

After falling behind in the 2nd period, the Blackhawks overpowered the Avalanche in the 3rd, outshooting Colorado by an astounding 15-3 that featured constant rushes and near misses on both sides. Cam Barker's rush 5 minutes in was the only shot to elude Colorado goalie and Chicago native Craig Anderson, setting up yet another overtime and eventual shootout.

The win gave Chicago their 2nd straight in the midst of a 4-game homestand that ends Sunday, after which the Hawks head west for their annual circus trip, this time a 6-game excursion that lasts til December 1.

However, bad news did emerge Tuesday, as Dave Bolland underwent surgery for a herniated disc and will be out for a few months. Bolland was the Hawks' best two-way center last year, but was obviously struggling with the injury to start the season. He'd missed the last two games before the decision was made to shut him down.

While the Hawks have earned W's the last two games without Bolland, they will have to adapt and find a center to replace him, though front-line reinforcements will arrive during the circus trip as forward Marian Hossa is expected to return. Last night saw Andrew Ebbett play a solid game, and he'll be given a chance to step up hiand prove himself in Bolland's absence, as will Tomas Kopecky. The Blackhawks also have Sharp and Kris Versteeg, who have played center in the past and may be shuffled into that role again, though the team would prefer to keep them both at wing. Barring these scenarios, a trade or free agent signing is possible, but unlikely given the Hawks salary-cap issues and forward depth (though placing Bolland on injured reserve does give the team breathing room on the cap).
Most likely Bolland will not return until after the Olympic break in February.

 
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