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Hawks get 4th in West
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/11/2009 12:01 AM

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The Blackhawks got some help Friday night to nail down the fourth seed in the Western Conference and earn home ice in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

When Edmonton beat Calgary 5-1, it meant the Hawks will open their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, likely on Thursday because the Bulls play Wednesday, against either Vancouver or Calgary.

"It's always great to have home-ice advantage," goalie Nikolai Khabibulin said. "You basically play all season for that. If you go seven games, that extra game at home is really big, especially having the home crowd. It's very important."

The Hawks will know tonight whether it's Vancouver or Calgary in the first round with both the Canucks and the Flames finishing their seasons with games. The Hawks play this afternoon in Detroit.

If the Hawks have a preference about playing one team over another, they're doing the smart thing and keeping it to themselves.

"We want to start at home," Adam Burish said. "We're 4-0 against Calgary, but that can maybe come back to get you. Can you beat a team eight times in a year? That's hard.

"Then you look at Vancouver and obviously it would be fun after the last dust-up we had with them. I'm sure that would carry over and make for an exciting series, too. You can look at it either way. Flip the coin. We're going to have fun either way."

Versteeg takes tumble: Kris Versteeg fell awkwardly into the boards at practice Friday and won't play today at Detroit.

There was nobody near Versteeg during a drill when he got his skates tangled and fell backward into the boards, apparently striking his head.

"I'm going to say it's doubtful for (today), but we don't think it's serious," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Aaron Johnson is expected to skate at left wing on the fourth line, with Ben Eager moving into Versteeg's spot with Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer.

Sharp update: Patrick Sharp didn't practice Friday and won't play either today or Sunday because of the cut he suffered to his leg a week ago.

"Hopefully we expect him to be ready for the playoffs," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's made real good progress the last few days."

Tip-ins: Cristobal Huet starts in goal today at Joe Louis Arena, with Nikolai Khabibulin going Sunday at the UC. - A reminder that Sunday's game with the Red Wings starts at 1 p.m. and not 4 p.m., as listed on most schedules.