Sidney Brown writes on the Blackhawks and the NHL for WARR, look for his weekly dispatches from the front lines of Hawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
Fortified with pickups old and new and feeling like a brand new team the Chicago Blackhawks blasted into the new season by destroying the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins 10-1 in their home opener.
There’s a long way to go before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but if the Hawks can operate like this throughout the course of the year, their chances of a fourth recent Cup looks much more realistic.
The stars are playing like stars, but the new additions are certainly contributing immediately to Chicago’s success.
Patrick Sharp: 2 goals, 2 assists
Brandon Saad: 6G, 2A (Hat Trick on 10/5)
John Hayden: 3A
Gustav Forsling: 4A
Jan Rutta: 2G, 2A
Ryan Hartman: 2G, 6A
In playing with new linemates, captain Jonathan Toews (3G, 3A) and Patrick Kane (2G, 6A) are benefitting in a major way.
In the case of Toews, Brandon Saad and Richard Panik are matching him on the top line while Ryan Hartman and Alex DeBrincat complement Kane on the second line as they adjust without Marian Hossa.
Chicago’s hot start has produced 25 goals while allowing only 13, a +12 differential. The penalty kill unit which started off cold a year ago and made a turn for the better ranking 11th in the NHL in shutting down the opposition’s man advantage.
While this year’s Hawks are still trying to find their identity, the numbers do even out like their opponents playing across from them.
First 2 Games
Goals Against: 2
Shots Per Game: 36.5
Last 4 Games
Goals Against: 11
Shots Per Game: 29.8
With a 4-1-1 record of this writing, the end of October looks challenging with three division opponents (Nashville, St. Louis & Colorado) and upstart teams in Las Vegas and Edmonton. The Men in Red have a golden opportunity to get out of October on top of their division.
Hitting the road for four of their remaining six games will be the first major test for this new group as the competition gets tougher. Let’s keep an eye on how much more can this group grow on the ice.
— To the Blackhawks for signing three-time Stanley Cup champion Bryan Bickell to a one-day contract to retire as a Hawk.
Also, in honoring Bickell, who has inspired many in the sports world during his battle against Multiple Sclerosis, which he was diagnosed with in November 2016. Bickell first retired from the NHL in April of 2017 after finishing the season with the Carolina Hurricanes.
With a pregame skate around the United Center ice during the One More Shift tribute before the home opener versus Pittsburgh the beloved wing was able to spread his once again before his favorite fans.
— To WGN TV in Chicago who during the October 7th broadcast against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 1st intermission, let color analyst Eddie Olcyzk express his thanks to his family, friends and Hawks fans as he engages in his battle with colon cancer. Eddie O vows to be back in the booth very soon.
— To rookie Alex DeBrincat for scoring his first career goal at Montreal during last Tuesday’s 4-1 victory.
Points: Patrick Kane (8)
Goals: Brandon Saad (6)
Assists: Kane (6)
Penalty Minutes: Richard Panik (10)
Goals Against Average: Corey Crawford (1.39)
Goals Per Game: 4.2 (4th in NHL)
Goals Against: 2.2 (3rd in NHL)
Power Play Percentage: 14.8 (21st in NHL)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 82.6 (11th in NHL)
The Road Ahead (thru 10/28)
Wednesday at St. Louis Blues — 7 pm
Thursday vs. Edmonton Oilers — 7:30 pm
Saturday at Arizona Coyotes — 8 pm
10/24 at Las Vegas Golden Knights — 9 pm
10/27 vs. Nashville Predators — 7:30 pm
10/28 @ Colorado Avalanche — 8 pm
*All times central
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