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Blackhawks, Wild weigh in on Gryba hit, playoff intensity

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By Blackhawks standards, Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild was a surprisingly physical affair, with Bryan Bickell's demolition of Zenon Konopka a highlight. By Stanley Cup playoff standards, though, it was downright cordial.

As the season goes along, though, that likely will change.

"Yeah, sooner or later," Hawks winger Patrick Sharp said. "Every playoff series I've been in there's been some kind of bad blood that usually comes out later in the series. You didn't see too much of it in Game 1. But there was some checks finished and words being said. I think that boils over as we go along."

Much of the talk before Friday's Game 2 was about Thursday night's game between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens, in which Ottawa's Eric Gryba sent Montreal's Lars Eller off on a stretcher with a high, open-ice hit. Gryba was suspended two games on Friday. Both Jonathan Toews and Sharp thought it was a clean hit, but it was a reminder of what's happened to the Hawks in recent postseasons, including Raffi Torres' concussive hit on Marian Hossa last season.

"We saw it last year in our games, first-hand," Joel Quenneville said. "It's all part of hockey. The speed, the size, and split decisions or timing -- those are the things that can happen."

Wild coach Mike Yeo agreed with Sharp that the intensity and emotion of the series will only go up as the games go on, but expected both teams to keep things legal.

"I know our guys are emotionally engaged in this and I think that it will increase as the series goes on," Yeo said. "I'm not comparing us to any of the other series that's going on, but I know where our emotions are at. We need to keep them in check, but I expect them to increase as the series goes on."

Toews said players have to look out for themselves, particularly in the postseason.

"It's a fast game, you've got to keep your head up and make sure you don't put yourself in vulnerable positions like that," he said. "I'm sure there's a few mistakes on both sides. You've got to be conscious, but I don't think you should be worried. Whenever you let up and don't keep playing your normal game, that's when accidents like that can happen."

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Mark Lazerus was honored nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors for three straight years at the Post-Tribune, was named one of the top three columnists in Indiana for three straight years and has won more than 20 statewide writing awards. He has covered Notre Dame for Sun-Times Media, and now covers the Blackhawks.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Lazerus published on May 3, 2013 4:24 PM.

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