In a game where the Blackhawks played with the intensity of their final pre-season game and their opponents, the ZSC Zurich Lions, played like it was late May, the result was a 2-1 victory to the home side. The Hawks sent 35 shots to the Lions net and only got one past goaltender Ari Sulander. I have no idea what this means in the big scheme of things, so let’s get to the important developments.
The good news was Dustin Byfuglien, Dave Bolland, and Kris Versteeg all suited up. Jack Skille played for the second game in a row after leaving the game in Washington last week with a lower body injury. So, for now, it looks like Adam Burish was the only casualty of the pre-season.
The ‘meh’ news was Radek Smolenak also dressed as the 13th forward and Versteeg skated with the 4th line. That gives the impression to this observer the Hawks aren’t too confident in whatever is ailing Versteeg. If he’s not 100% for the first few weeks, it leaves the window open for someone like Skille or Smolenak to stake out a spot on the roster.
And if I hear one more word about Skille’s cap hit affecting his chances of making the team, I’m going to tear out my own rotator cuff. With Marian Hossa starting the season on the shelf, the Hawks will have more than enough room on their salary cap to fit in Skille’s $1.275 hit.
The bad news was this was the first game of the pre-season the majority of the team played in together due to the aforementioned injuries. John Madden was the only regular who sat out the international tilt. Will this be the root cause of the Hawks starting out of the gates slowly? We’ll find out this weekend. Either way, the Hawks should be one step ahead of their competition when they get back to the States as they’ve already played in some high intensity games. Well, at least for the first couple games.
If you’re really shook up about the Hawks dropping the game to the Lions, or an international squad for that matter, just look at what happened in Tampere, Finland on Monday. The Florida Panthers lost to the home squad 3-2 on penalties when two goalies combined to make 50 saves to preserve the win. For the record, Tampere is currently the 6th ranked team in Finland.
Then to complicate matters, they’ll probably head into Wednesday’s game against Jokerit with a skeleton squad. It’s very likely they could end up o-for-2 in Finland and it won’t mean a darn thing when Friday rolls around.