Sunday, October 22, 2006

Injuries add up for Blackhawks

First it was Patrick Lalime, who had been brought in to be Nikolai Khabibulin's backup, going lame with a back injury on Sept. 14.

The preseason hurts continued the next day, when it was announced promising rookie defenceman Cam Barker required surgery on a bum ankle.

A week later, yet still in the preseason, Tuomo Ruutu's knee was taken out by Columbus' Rostislav Klesla. He's been out four weeks, and is expected to miss at least two more.

And the bad news has continued to come for Chicago during the regular season, as they lost Martin Havlat — the NHL's leading scorer at the time — last week to an ankle injury. Luckily, he's expected back in two to three weeks.

Not so for Michal Handzus, however, who we learn today is gone for the season following Saturday's game — a contest in which Khabibulin happened to break his finger in the warm-up. Handzus had been averaging more than 21 minutes a night, second to only Havlat among 'Hawks forwards, and had eight points in eight games. Khabibulin had been looking strangely like the Stanley Cup calibre goaltender GM Dale Tallon thought he spent all his cap dollars on in the summer of 2005.

Given this is a team that finished third-last in the standings last season, that has missed the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons, and which, until very recently, no one had even the slightest hopes for, that's all tough to take. And while the Blackhawks have eked out a 4-4 record to start the year after looking like world-beaters in the preseason, this isn't a team that has enough depth to compensate for the sort of player-a-week losses they've been incurring so far.

Because as impressive as Chicago has, at times, looked this season, without Havlat and Handzus and a few other supporting players, they begin to look an awful lot like another team.

The one that finished 30 points out of a playoff spot last time around.


At 12:36 p.m., October 23, 2006, Anonymous thehockeychick said...

The Blackhawks have definitely suffered a major blow with Havlat out for a few weeks. It just goes to show, even when you get the right players together and look toward rebuilding a team, injuries can put a damper on your plan. Hopefully they don't get too behind during Havlat's absence. And someone can step up and fill in for Handzus' departure for the season.


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