CHICAGO -- If the action on the ice today is as heated as the war of words off it yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings will provide great entertainment.
In the fallout of the bone-crushing hit Detroit's Niklas Kronwall laid on Martin Havlat in the last outing, Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brian Campbell came out swinging.
"I thought it was gutless all the way around," Campbell said. "He has done it hundreds of times in the league, and it seems like nothing ever happens. He could have easily come in and used his shoulder and hit him with his side and it would have been fine, but instead he comes up and explodes with his fists and his forearms and jumps.
"It's unacceptable, and it's not like it's the first time it has happened with that guy. You look at him last year in the playoffs, he's catching guys and every time he jumps. He could be the greatest guy in the world off the ice, but every time he hits, he jumps in the air and explodes with his fists and everything."
The reverberations of Kronwall's hit will be felt through the rest of the Western Conference final when it resumes this afternoon in Chicago.
Havlat returning, at least for today, seems questionable, at best.
Head coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't confirm or deny the star right winger was knocked unconscious after Kronwall caught him at the blue line while looking down at the puck in his feet.
Havlat didn't practise with the team and wasn't available to the media.
As of last night, no suspension was handed down, and in light of the major penalty and game misconduct Kronwall received, it's not expected before this afternoon's Game 4 at the United Center.
Still, there could be some fireworks.
"I'm sure there won't be one check not finished on him," Campbell said. "You can't afford penalties, especially against their power play, but we can go after and finish our checks and be a pain. That's how we're going to have to try and go about it."
Kronwall, who does have a history of dishing out monstrous hits, tried to take in stride Campbell's comments.
"Everyone has a right to their own opinion," he said. "I think people that know me know I never really try to hurt anyone out there.
"It's unfortunate he got hurt. It's a little scary to see him go down like that. From my perspective, the way I felt things happened, the puck went off the wall, he went to pick it up. I stepped in and he never saw me coming. Sure, he never touched the puck, but I thought the puck was right there."
While Quenneville called it a "dangerous hit", Wings head coach Mike Babcock said it wasn't.
"I thought it was a great hockey hit. So far from being gutless it's not even funny," Babcock said. "He did it right. He didn't leave his feet. The puck was right in between the guy's feet.
"You hang out your elbow, hit the guy in the head, you're head hunting for him ... but that to me is not what I saw there.
"... I actually believe what I'm telling you. It's the facts. I mean, I went over it a hundred times. Before I came in here, I wanted to see: Did he leave his feet? Kroner, what he does, usually he has got so much pop in him, he explodes through the guy. At the end of the check when he is done, he's off the ice. That wasn't the case here at all in the situation. Anyway, enough of that."
Don't expect it to end there, though, as the Hawks try to even the best-of-seven series, which Detroit leads 2-1.
Chicago has its share of hard hitters, and Kronwall knows well enough he'll be in the crosshairs.
"That's just natural," he said. "I don't know if it's called escalating or not, but I'm sure it's going to be more physical out there. That's just the way the game's played."