On a night that began with a focus on Patrick Kane‘s experimental run at center, the Blackhawks’ 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings will have a dark cloud hanging over it as the Hawks move closer and closer to the season.
Chicago lost a pair of forwards, in Viktor Stalberg and Ben Smith, with the initial impressions on the injuries for both not looking like good news.
Stalberg left the game early with a leg injury, which Joel Quenneville would go on to say is “probably not good”. Stalberg, who was having a very solid preseason in his second year with the Hawks, left the game in the first period.
The scarier news on the injury front is the injury that everyone saw, when Ben Smith took a shoulder from Detroit’s Brendan Smith, as Smith crossed in front of Ben as he approached the Detroit net. Smith lowered his shoulder into Ben Smith, appearing to knock him out cold.
Though Wings’ head coach Mike Babcock did his best to defend his player, the hit is precisely the type that the NHL is trying to eliminate from the game. The even more unfortunate part of it is that Brendan Smith is likely AHL bound, meaning that any suspension handed down by no-nonsense Brendan Shanahan won’t follow through.
As far as Ben Smith, once he did get up from the ice, he was in a clear daze. The Hawks will know more on his injury in the coming days, but with concussion issues standing the way they are in the NHL right now, the Hawks could be without him for a lengthy period of time.
On the other main front from Wednesday night, the tilt against Detroit was the first time since 2008 the team has seen Patrick Kane at center. With such little depth in the middle, Coach Q turned heads on Sunday when he said that Kane would see time in the middle in the preseason.
For the most part, Kane performed admirably. He was 8-of-12 in the faceoff circle, with a couple of giveaways, while also notching a goal and an assist. Of course, the concern for Kane at center isn’t on the offensive end. He’ll have to prove he can keep up with the defense, and he’ll have to do it against a legitimate squad, not against a Wings team that sent out many of their rookies and scrubs, just as the Hawks did against the Red Wings’ big names on Sunday.
Marian Hossa also had a strong preseason debut. Hossa saw 19 minutes of ice time and scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period.
The Hawks will remain at the United Center for their next preseason contest, which is slated for Friday against Pittsburgh.