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Blackhawks Wed Sep 18 2013

Blackhawks Shutout Wings in Pre-season Opener

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngFinally, the time has arrived for full competition against an opponent who doesn't happen to share the same locker room and training staff. The Blackhawks opened up pre-season play last night against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center, and skated away with a 2-0 victory.

Corey Crawford stopped all 19 shots he faced and earned the game's first star. Patrick Sharp snapped a shot passed backup goalie Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson at 16 minutes, 37 seconds in the second period, while Ben Smith scored on a wrister just 1 minute, 9 seconds later.

Head coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford tracked the puck very well and was happy they were able to get a full game out of the newly re-signed backstop. Look for backup Nikolai Khabibulin and Antti Raanta to get some action come Thursday, September 19, against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the UC.

Jonathan Toews sat out but did skate before the game in order to keep working out his lower-body injury. According to coach Quenneville, Toews also will sit out the next game against the Penguins. No sense of running anyone at full throttle this early on, especially with other members trying to make the roster.

That said coach Q has some trimming to do, which doesn't involve his mustache. The current roster size is at 47 players while the final roster size needs to be at 23 (at minimum, 20 players are allowed with 18 skaters and two goalies; injury-reserved players are not counted) at the start of the season until the trade deadline.

And while it is pre-season, and all of this means nothing but a good healthy skate to get into shape and feel out the roster, the Red Wings did commit six penalties on which the Blackhawks could not capitalize. That meaning, the power play was the only thing that didn't show up. Also, the faceoff game at the dot fell short with Detroit dominating 34-19.

Again, it's only the pre-season. But these are two issues which haunted the Blackhawks and gave everyone ulcers throughout the playoff run. Fortunately Quenneville shuffled the lines up a little and everything worked out, so it's safe to believe the pre-season work will allow for different looks in solving these issues.

Last night's game only was available for those who attended, as it was not televised nor aired on 720-WGN AM with coverage of the Cubs and whatever fight was breaking out in the dugout at that time. It was, however, available online via an online player. Thursday night's game will air on CSN with the return of Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk.

Only five more pre-season games left until the start of the season, where 29 other teams will look to target the Blackhawks to take their title. Until then, practice will help to make perfect in defense of the Cup in what should be another exciting season.

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