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Thursday, September 29, 2011
Ben Smith better after head hit

By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com

The Blackhawks say forward Ben Smith is doing better after taking a blow to the head in Chicago's 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings, but winger Viktor Stalberg will be out three weeks with a leg injury.

"Ben is OK," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice Thursday. "I guess, OK. I don't want to put a timeline on him."

Smith was nailed in the head on an open-ice hit in the third period by defenseman Brendan Smith. After seeing replays, Quenneville is convinced it was a dirty hit.

"It's exactly the hit they are trying to get out of the game," he said. "It's the blow to the head where it's the first point of contact. It's unfortunate for us but hopefully at the same time the players will adjust."

Brendan Smith, who received a match penalty in the game, had a hearing at 4 p.m. ET Thursday with the NHL to determine any supplemental punishment, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun.

The Blackhawks are calling Ben Smith day to day, but Stalberg will miss the beginning of the regular season.

"He seemed OK this morning but that's probably what we're looking at," Quenneville said of the three-week prediction.

Stalberg and Justin Abdelkader of the Wings collided in the first period and Quenneville intimated it wasn't so accidental.

"It looked like it could have been more than a collision," Quenneville said. "I'll leave it at that."

Patrick Sharp, recovering from an emergency appendectomy, skated by himself for a fifth straight day, and Quenneville said there is a "likelihood" he'll practice with the team Friday for the first time. Dave Bolland missed practice Thursday with an upper body ailment, but Quenneville said it's not related to the concussion that kept him sidelined late last year.

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun contributed to this report.