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Blackhawks Wed Oct 13 2010

Hjalmarsson out for a pair as Hawks open with splits

If anyone thought the Blackhawks would have it easy, the opening week of the season should have disabused them of that notion. Though the Hawks managed to go 1-1-1 in their first 3 games, all 3 contests were tightly contested, 1 goal games.

Opening last Thursday in Colorado, Chicago opened up an early 1-0 lead thanks to Brian Bickell's powerplay goal, but the Avalanche kept coming and firing shots on goalie Marty Turco, to the tune of 41 total. Though the Hawks forced overtime after being down 3-1, the Avs first shot in the extra session dribbled past Turco.

Saturday saw the Stanley Cup on home ice, and the banner raised to the rafters, and though the Hockeybroad's picture captures the magic nicely, the ceremony (the final part seen here is well worth a watch...very nicely handled. The banner raising will also be rerun on Comcast tonight at 11 p.m. The Hawks hung tough against the Red Wings despite the last-minute scratch of Patrick Sharp, and it was a back and forth game. But a fluke goal started when John Scott went "Tiiiimber!" at the blue-line and Valtteri Filppula mishandled the puck off a sliding Niklas Hjalmarsson and past Turco gave the Wings a 3-2 win.

After giving up 2 goals in the first 3 minutes Monday night in Buffalo, the Hawks clawed back with 4 unanswered goals before finally picking up their first victory 4-3 over the Sabres. Marian Hossa tallied two goals to lead the Hawks, while rookie Nick Leddy picked up his first goal and hometown kid Patrick Kane scored his first of the season for the Hawks. However, the talk after the game was on this scary play, and the possible consequences.

Word came down today that Hjalmarsson was suspended two games for this hit from behind on Sabres forward Jason Pominville. While Hammer doesn't have a reputation as a dirty player, and I'd hesitate to classify the hit as that, the replays show he makes contact on the backside rather than from the side, and even if the winger sees him coming, following through leads to a much more dangerous play. While Pominville was carted off on a stretcher and diagnosed with a concussion, the news out of Buffalo is that he's only expected to miss about a week, thankfully. Hjalmarsson will miss tonight's game against Nashville and Friday's in Columbus, leaving his return for this Saturday against...the Buffalo Sabres. It'll be interesting to see if the matter is settled with the suspension or if things escalate.

Meanwhile, with Hjalmarsson and both Brian Campbell out, the Hawks will face last season's first round playoff foes the Nashville Predators very shorthanded on their blue line tonight. This is especially troubling as the Hawks defense has already been less than stellar so far this season, including the top pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. For the Hawks to earn a win, those two will have to play some major minutes and not make some of the mistakes seen so far.

 
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