Heading into today’s game four, the big story is each team’s injury troubles.
According to numerous media outlets, Chris Draper will miss Sunday’s game four and Pavel Datsyuk’s status will be determined shortly before the game.
On the other end, the Blackhawks’ Nik Khabibulin and Martin Havlat are likely out for the tilt.
For Martin Havlat, the hit which caused his injury has been the subject of great debate. Of course, most Hawk fans believe it was a dirty hit and most Wing fans believe it wasn’t. (Kudos to Feather readers, who, again, managed to bring objective views to the situation.) What’s important now is Havlat’s health and his ability to contribute against the Wings in the near future. Given that Havlat appeared to sustain a concussion on Friday, it is very unlikely he’ll be available for today’s game and nearly as unlikely he’ll be able to play in games five or six. Remember, though, I’m no doctor.
Enter stage left Colin Fraser, who has played only once during the playoffs. That came in game three against the Calgary Flames in Calgary when Patrick Kane wasn’t able to go due to the flu. The Hawks lost 4-2, though that wasn’t the fault of Fraser. He’ll likely take Patrick Sharp’s spot on the fourth line, and it’s anyone’s guess after that. Perhaps Quenneville puts together a checking line with Pahlsson in the middle, perhaps with Ladd and Brouwer on the wings. Perhaps not. There’s little precedent for playing without Havlat this year; Havlat has missed only one game this entire season.
As for Khabibulin, my money’s on him missing the rest of the playoffs – regardless of how far the Blackhawks get without him. Khabibulin suffered the infamous “lower body injury” twice during the regular season: once in late November and once again in mid-February. Each time Khabby missed at least three weeks, and his injury in February kept him out over a month. On the bright side, Khabibulin hasn’t exactly been the rock the Hawks hoped he could be in the playoffs. While he certainly has not been bad, perhaps it is time to give Cristobal Huet, a bona fide number one goalie himself, a chance to beat the Wings.
Additionally, I’m reminded of the season-long debate of what the Hawks should do with their goaltending situation. It was our position that Tallon keep both goaltenders, saying it could seriously aid the Hawks in a situation like … well, this one. Yes, it cost the Hawks almost $13 million this season and signing Huet while Khabibulin’s big money was still on the books was surely a mistake by Tallon, but it could now benefit the Hawks this playoff season like little else could.
Committed to the Indian
For those going to the game, the Fifth Feather is featured in The Committed Indian. Support Sam and his excellent publication by buying a copy outside the UC before the game begins. For those of you not going this afternoon, as usual, we’ll post our contribution in the next few days.