There will be officials and penalties, three 20-minute periods, and yes, there'll be some hitting.
But tonight's Blackhawks' intrasquad scrimmage at the United Center -- featuring seven extra call-ups from the Rockford IceHogs -- won't be quite like a real game. There won't be any fans, and there won't be any crunching checks. At least, there had better not be.
"You've got to balance it," Hawks winger Patrick Kane said. "I don't think anyone's going to be running around. Guys will be finishing checks, but you're not going to take a guy's head off if he's coming across the middle with his head down. I think guys have enough respect for each other to know that in here. But you still want to feel that game experience and the game atmosphere, and I think for all of us, you want to get into that game shape."
Coach Joel Quenneville did everything he could to simulate a real game experience today, since the abbreviated training camp meant no preseason games before the season-opener in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. The team showed up for a brief morning skate -- during which the power play was the focus for the first time in camp -- and then had the usual game day routine. That includes a nap, a team meal, and even showing up to the game in a suit and tie.
What about trash talk and facewashes and fights, and the like?
"Like hockey players are, we'll get more intense as the game goes on," Kane said. "At the start, we'll just be feeling it out. You want to take it like an exhibition game, not like it's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final or anything like that. Just an exhibition game to get us ready for Saturday."
Patrick Sharp also was wary of trying to walk the fine line between physical and dangerous tonight. Even during the morning skate, firing pucks from the point made him a little uneasy.
"It's always tough playing against your own teammates," Sharp said. "You don't want to shoot pucks off their feet or shin pads and stuff like that. I thought both units moved the puck well."
But for tonight, the guys want to let loose and really play. A little bit, at least.
"That's the idea, to play physical and play like a real game," Sharp said. "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."