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Blackhawks try to get in regular-season routine before opener

#32 Michal Rozsival #25 Vitkor Stalberg Goalie #30 Ray Emery Chicago Blackhawks training camp United Center. | Wednesday January 16

#32 Michal Rozsival, #25 Vitkor Stalberg and Goalie #30 Ray Emery at the Chicago Blackhawks training camp at the United Center. | Wednesday, January 16, 2013. Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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SEASON OPENER

HAWKS AT KINGS

The facts: 2 p.m. Saturday,
Ch. 5, 720-AM.

Updated: February 19, 2013 2:10PM



Jim Cornelison didn’t sing the national anthem, and there were just a few hundred youth hockey players in the stands. But there were officials and penalties, periods and intermissions, and even a little hitting.

Wednesday night’s intrasquad scrimmage at the United Center — featuring six extra call-ups from the Rockford IceHogs — wasn’t a real game. But it was as close as the Hawks could get before Saturday’s season-opener in Los Angeles against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.

The Hawks did everything they could to simulate a real game experience, even holding a brief morning skate, scheduling a nap time and a team meal, wearing suits and ties to the arena in the evening and playing soccer in the bowels of the arena before the puck dropped.

It wasn’t the most physical game, but the Red Team — which included the Hawks’ top two scoring lines — rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit to win 3-2.

“It was a great idea to play this game,” said winger Patrick Sharp, whom coach Joel Quenneville said looked “dominant.” “You could see the guys who hadn’t played in a while got better as the game went on. By getting the rust off mid-week, we should be ready for Saturday.”

Jimmy Hayes and Marcus Kruger scored against Corey Crawford in the first period, while Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (on the power play) scored on Ray Emery in the second. Bryan Bickell slid a backhanded rebound past Crawford — apparently traded from Red to White during the second intermission — for the game-winner midway through the third period.

The White team included many of the one-day Rockford callups, who clearly wanted to make a quick impression on Quenneville.

“The first period, those guys were all over us,” Bickell said. “We were like, ‘Jeez, we’ve got to change something and get something going.’ They’ve been playing for three months. There’s only a handful of guys [on the Red team] who’ve been doing that.”

Of course, the score wasn’t the point so much as the experience. With only a five-day training camp in the wake of the lockout, there was no time for preseason games. So the Hawks, like many teams around the league, staged their own.

The lack of open-ice hits made it look like an All-Star game. But there was some bumping going on, along with a few rub-outs along the boards.

“That’s the idea, to play physical and play like a real game,” Sharp said before the scrimmage. “Obviously, if you have a chance to really take advantage of someone, you might let up a little bit. You don’t want to hurt anybody. But the whole idea is to get banged a few times and feel what it’s like to play in a real game.”

Sharp knew he wasn’t yet in midseason form when he couldn’t fall asleep for his pre-game nap. Instead, he lay in bed watching a college hockey game. Bickell, who played in Austria during the lockout, had no such trouble.

“It felt good to have that nap,” he said. “Hadn’t had one in a while.”



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