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updated: 4/20/2014 8:26 PM

Hawks have uphill battle with Seabrook suspended

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  • Brent Seabrook has been suspended three games by the NHL for an illegal hit to the St. Louis Blues' David Backes during Saturday's playoff game.

      Brent Seabrook has been suspended three games by the NHL for an illegal hit to the St. Louis Blues' David Backes during Saturday's playoff game.
    Daily Herald File Photo by Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

Trailing 2-0 in the series.

Minus not only a rock on defense but one of their more physical players as well for the next three games.

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Facing a St. Louis team not only riled up about the loss of their captain but by some alleged taunting of him by the Blackhawks as he teetered on the ice, trying to get his bearings.

Let's just say the Hawks have their work cut out for them heading into Game 3 on Monday night at the United Center.

First things first, Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was suspended three games by the league Sunday for his shoulder hit to the head of the Blues' David Backes late in regulation Saturday.

The hit left Backes woozy and unable to continue and set up a five-minute power play on which the Blues capitalized when Vladimir Tarasenko scored the game-tying goal with 6.4 seconds remaining.

St. Louis went on to win the game 4-3 in overtime.

"It hurts, you know. He's a leader," Brandon Saad said of Seabrook, who leads the team in scoring with 4 points in the first two games. "He's a good player and he does the right things out there.

"But we've got to accept the challenge and play without him. We can't use that as an excuse. They've been missing some players in Game 1, so we've just got to rise to the challenge and play for him."

In announcing Seabrook's punishment, the NHL Department of Player Safety called the play "a late, high hit," and said not only was it charging but interference as well.

"Seabrook drives up and into Backes, delivering a blow with his right shoulder that causes Backes to slam violently into the glass and boards," the league said in its video replay of the hit.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock updated Backes' status Sunday. "All we know is that he's upright, that's about it right now," he said.

So add to that already combustible situation the fact that Blues players claim there was some taunting of their captain as he struggled to his feet, and who knows what to expect for Game 3.

"I saw them talking to him," Blues forward Ryan Reaves said. "It makes it a little more gutless. I don't think there's any need for that when a hit like that happens. You don't need to be going after him when he doesn't even know where he is.

"I'm not happy about that. I don't think anybody in this organization is happy about it.

The Hawks, who turned up the physical in Game 2, say they'll be ready to respond to whatever St. Louis brings Monday night.

"That's their game; they play physical," defenseman Michal Rozsival said. "You can't just receive hits. Sometimes you've got to give a hit, too. We can't have them bully us all the time.

"But that's the way it is and we need to have a part of this game in our game, to play physical and with the puck and a skill game as well."

The loss of Seabrook, who collected his second consecutive multipoint game Saturday with a third-period goal to go along with an assist, means more ice time for Sheldon Brookbank should be in the cards.

"Obviously losing Seabs is not ideal, but we kind of had a game last year where we lost Duncs and the other guys had to step in and play more minutes and bigger roles and do a better job, and I think that's something we have to look at," Johnny Oduya.

A few days before the playoffs started, the veteran Brookbank talked about a season in which he played 46 games, finished with 7 points and had 52 penalty minutes.

"I've had a pretty good run of games here (at the end of the season) and it definitely's got my game back where I'm used to having it," he said. "Just get that rhthym going. I was definitely happy to get some consecutive games and start feeling good about myself again."

And despite facing an uphill battle, the Hawks look at their 0-2 deficit and see it as something they can climb their way out of.

"Guaranteed," Oduya said. "We had this a couple of times last year. I think it builds character. I think this is something you have to go through at times during the playoffs.

"We believe in each other. We believe in this group. We know we can do that."

mspellman@dailyherald.com

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