Hockey officially returned to the United Center Saturday night, and the Chicago fans came out in droves to see the team considered by many to be the favorite in the Western Conference. If the national anthem didn't send shivers down you spine, the lineup discrepancy probably did. I was really excited to see Alex Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Green, Varlamov, etc... Instead we were all treated to the Hershey Bears. 9 Washington players were on the Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears last year. While the 'Hawks didnt play every starter, there was a lot of star power on the ice wearing the indian head on their sweaters.
The Blackhawks dominated the first period, but sunk down to the level of their opponent half way through the second period. This was actually one of the Capital's probelms last year. For the rest of the game, the Bears....I mean.....Capitals gave the 'Hawks fits. Kris Versteeg left the game in the second. There is still no word on what happened.
One player that really played well was Jack Skille. He has long been considered on the cusp of making the jump to the NHL. the former Wisconsin Badger's end to end speed is the first thing that jumps out at you. He creates a lot of opportunities by simply outskating nearly every opponent on the ice. His passes are crisp, and he posseses a sweet scoring touch. His goal against the Capitals was a great shot from a tough angle. With Hossa out until December, expect to see Skille take his space.
Cristobal Huet makes a couple of good stops. His rebound control is something that has improved since the last season. Giving up second and third chances was something that really hurt him last season. His defense left him out to dry tonight.
With the exception of Duncan Keith and Brent Sopel, the Chicago defense looked very disorganized. Brian Campbell's defensive shortcomings were exposed and exploited by the Washington forwards. Brent Seabrook had a number of turnovers, and passes that were to no one. Sopel, who missed most of last season due to elbow surgery, has turned heads in training camp.
In a way, this might be a godsend to a team that has been hyped since July 1st. This exhibition lost to a team they should have run roughshod over might bring them back down to earth.
Richard Petiot, #44, looked overwhelmed and very nervous. He made poor decisions, and took a stupid penalty.
Bryan Bickell and Danny Blois played a solid game.
This game really set the mark for errant sticks to the face.
Kyle Wilson was the best forward on the ice for Washington (goal, assist). A 9th-round pick of Minnesota in 2004, Wilson scored 30 goals in Hershey during the 2007-2008 season.
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