Look out! The kids can crash

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Don't kid yourself, the Chicago Blackhawks have this playoff-style game down.

Especially the hitting.

The Flames may have a game plan of wearing down the younger and less experienced Blackhawks with physical play, but the kids are more than willing to match the hitting tit-for-tat.

And then some.

Right up until Martin Havlat scored the overtime winner last night in a 3-2 Blackhawks victory, both teams were hitting each other more often than the cab drivers slam their horns on Michigan Avenue.

The final hit total on the stats sheet read Blackhawks 38, Flames 24.

Yeah, that might be liberal with the abacus, but you get the point.

The Flames have made a name for themselves ever since their 2004 playoff run of being a bruise crew, banging and crashing their way from corner to corner in an attempt to beat the desire right out of their opposition.

Frankly, they're no longer the crash and bash squad they were five years ago, but they still have their share of guys more than willing to lay the body.

And considering Chicago's squad is loaded with players who are more in need of acne cream than shaving cream, it makes sense.

The way Rene Bourque crushed Patrick Kane in the early going sure followed the Flames' playbook.

But the Blackhawks have all kinds of players willing to respond in kind.

Over a 43-second span late in the second period, Dustin Byfuglien hit Adam Pardy, Adam Burish rammed Jim Vandermeer, Cam Barker hit Eric Nystrom and Ben Eager hit Jordan Leopold.

It was a pretty impressive exhibition.

A smash-up derby has less contact in such a short span.

"We wanted to come out and go to the body, and I'm sure they did as well, but maybe we had more hits because they had the puck the majority of the first two periods," Barker said. "They're extremely good at that. Their forecheck was very good against us tonight. Being physical is something we want to establish in this series."

Byfuglien threw his weight around to the tune of seven hits. Burish had six.

Physical play is supposed to be Calgary's forte, and they were pretty impressive at it. Dion Phaneuf had a team-best four hits to lead the way, which is no surprise.

But you have to think the Flames may be trying to figure out another part of the game they can boast being better at since the Blackhawks more than matched them in that department.

"I don't know if we want to think of it that way, but we need to be physical to be successful in the playoffs," Barker said. "It's going to be a long series, and the more hits and more bumps you get in -- you never know what's going to happen or how long it's going to go -- puts you in a better position.

"They've got a lot of skilled guys who can make great plays, and you're going to look foolish if you don't take the man."


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