The Chicago Blackhawks will be in for a long one on Saturday night, as the Buffalo Sabres have not been subtle about their attempts to seek revenge for a Niklas Hjalmarsson hit that left Sabres forward Jason Pominville sidelined with a concussion.
Though Pominville's return date is still indefinite, Hjalmarsson's is not.
After serving a two game suspension doled out by the NHL, the Hawks defenceman will be in action just in time for the rematch on Saturday night. Given that the start of the Buffalo Sabres' season has been frustrating enough (they are 1-2-1 through the first four games), the fact that they will be without one of their top-six forwards only makes things worse.
On Monday night, Hjalmarsson hit Pominville directly into the side boards from behind while Pominville was watching play unfold in the Buffalo zone corner. Even though Hjalmarsson has since apologized, it's not likely to make a difference in the eyes of the upset Sabres.
Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff has commented publicly that he felt as though the suspension should have been longer.
According to the Bodog Sportsbook, the Sabres have 30/1 odds of winning the Stanley Cup. With goaltender Ryan Miller in net and defensive protege Tyler Myers on the blue line, 2010-11 could turn into quite the rewarding campaign. Unfortunately, one thing that is certain is that they would be even better with Pominville in the line up.
The Chicago Blackhawks, on the other hand, have 15/2 odds of defending their Stanley Cup title.
When the two clubs square off on Saturday will the referees be able to maintain sanity and composure in an emotionally-charged tilt? For all your NHL futures, individual game odds and player props, check out Bodog.com.