(Chicago Tribune)

After a nice little break I like to enjoy each offseason, I’m making my triumphant, much-anticipated return so you folks can remind me of how my fantastic, well-written, well-informed opinions are what you look forward to on a daily basis bother you.

I hit the United Center last night in my usual spot in Section 326, Row 12, Seat 11 and watched the Blackhawks earn a meaningless 4-3 win over Detroit, much to the delight of the woman behind me screeching each time the ‘Hawks crossed the red line. Thanks, psycho.

The problem with these games that don’t count is that bad shit still can happen, evident by the fact Viktor Stalberg will be sidelined three weeks with a leg injury, and Ben Smith got railroaded by a nasty hit which knocked him out cold. The bad stings, and the good is taken with a shaving of ice.

Now that I’ve made you more depressed about watching preseason hockey, here’s what I saw:

♦  The hit by Brendan Smith was plain dirty, no matter what Communists’ coach Hair Babcock says. There was absolutely no reason for it, and hopefully he gets his ass kicked for it down the road. He made absolutely no play on the puck and targeted the head with his upper arm. Downright dangerous shit. Here’s another look at it:

♦  I know it’s preseason against the Grand Rapids Griffins, but the ‘Hawks looked pretty damn fluid last night. Tape-to-tape passing, heads were up, people were where they needed to be (for the most part), and their bodies were keeping up with their minds – which doesn’t always happen in preseason. The ‘Hawks controlled the puck from the outset, not allowing the Wings to get a shot on goal until the 5:30 mark of the first period. Then again, they did allow a goal in the final minute of the 1st, which brings back horrible memories.

♦  Patrick Kane went 8 for 12 at the faceoff dot, and playing center allowed him to weave his way through the zone a couple different occassions, free himself, then use his exceptional passing skills to begin an organized offense. Before we all start wetting our drawers about that, let’s come back to reality and realize that Kaner won’t be starting the season at center. Then main thing I take away from his solid performance is that his wrist seems just fine.

♦  Kane’s goal came off a beautiful feed from Jonathan Toews, who already looks to be in midseason form. I don’t remember the exact point in the game, but there was a point when a Red Wing appeared to be skating the puck out of their zone, and Toews came from behind with a stick-lift to steal the puck before it crossed the blue line, creating another offensive chance. Again, it’s against a Detroit team without Datsuyk, Zetterberg and Co., but it’s still encouraging to see.

♦  I was surprised Corey Crawford played the entire game. I don’t know why, just found it to be strange. It might have been the alcohol.

♦  With Stalberg on the mend, Smith almost assured to miss part of the regular season and the uncertainty of Patrick Sharp’s return, it won’t be surprising to see Brandon Saad on the roster on opening night. However, using his nine games at the beginning of the season when he may be needed down the road during an 82-game scheduled filled with random injuries is something the ‘Hawks need to look into.

♦  The defense was OK, nothing that blew my skirt up. Sami Lepisto got caught way too deep on Drew Miller’s power play goal. Nothing really stood out. Again, they weren’t facing many NHL guys.

♦  Goal scored by Marian Hossa, assisted by Toews and Kane. More of this would be neato.

That should about do it. I’ll be back at the United Center on Friday in the same seat. Come buy me a beer.

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