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Monday, October 26

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Blackhawks Fri Oct 29 2010

Hossa on shelf for two weeks; Hawks host Oilers

Let the Ben Smith era begin!

As the Blackhawks snapped a two-game losing streak in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the L.A. Kings, they got a dose of bad news as Marian Hossa left the game midway through the 2nd period. With Hossa's upper-body injury expected to keep him out for a few weeks, the Hawks have called up forward Ben Smith for tonight's 7:30 puck drop against the Edmonton Oilers and #1 overall pick Taylor Hall. Chicago also travels to Minnesota to face the Wild tomorrow.

Given that Hossa's been one of the few Hawks putting the puck in the net with any regularity, his absence provides a fine time for Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane and Dave Bolland to start picking up the scoring slack. As for Smith, the callup is his first NHL game after spending four years at Boston College, and he's produced a goal and 3 assists in Rockford so far this season. Unless Smith clicks, it's a good bet the Hawks will shuffle a few players through in Hossa's absence as a chance to get their younger players some NHL experience.

Thankfully for the Hawks, the Oilers come in the losers of 6 straight, with the last two losses from shootouts, including last night's 3-2 decision in Columbus. On the tail end of a back-to-back, the Oilers will be in a tough position to come out firing, which gives the Hawks a chance to score early and put the pressure on Edmonton. However, given the Blackhawks recent trend of taking periods off, there's no lead that seems insurmountable. Former Hawks Nicolai Khabibulin is expected to be in net for the Oilers, In his lone return to the UC last season, Habby gave up 4 goals in a 4-3 loss, before a back injury ended his season in early November.

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