Good Saturday morning, Blackhawks fans. As you sit down with your coffee, or tea, or cereal, or pastries, or full plate of bacon, let me remind you that the opening of the 2021 NHL season is just four days away! The Blackhawks open the season on Wednesday, taking on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa.
If you’ll think back to five and a half years ago, it was this matchup between the Lightning and Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final that served as a glimpse into two franchises about to head in two very different directions.
• Ever since, and including, that 2014-2015 Cup Final run by the Lightning, they have been perennial Stanley Cup favorites. Tampa has the most regular season wins (297) by any NHL franchise and ranks second in points (632) over the last six seasons. They have also scored the most goals (1,565) of any team over that same span (almost identical ranks to the Blackhawks over a six season timeframe from 2009-10 to 2014-15). In that span, Chicago ranked second in wins (271) and first in both goals scored (1,385) and points (596). Oh, and they won three Stanley Cups. The difference between the two organizations now, after separate six-year dominances, is that the Blackhawks fell off a cliff and the Lightning are poised to stay at the top of the NHL mountain. I think it’s a Chicago thing.
• News breaking this morning regarding the Lightning as well:
We will open the 2020-21 season without fans due to concerns caused by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Hillsborough County and west central Florida. https://t.co/yPUvDtYOH1
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) January 9, 2021
• A change in course for games held in Tampa, good on them.
• And while we’re on the subject:
Penguins have cancelled practice and scrimmage scheduled for Saturday. Potential exposure to COVID-19 cited as reason.
No word yet on how Sunday practice/scrimmage will be impacted.
Important to clarify that this does NOT mean anybody has tested positive for COVID-19.
— Rob Rossi (@Real_RobRossi) January 9, 2021
• This is the world we’re still operating in, folks.
• Add the Penguins to the list of teams that have had to shutdown operation or cancel practice or hold players out due to COVID concerns. Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Dallas all have been affected in just the last few days and they won’t be the last teams affected.
• This has served as a reminder for the Blackhawks:
Jeremy Colliton says COVID-19 outbreak in Dallas can serve as important teaching moment: "It's a reminder to all of us that we've got to be careful and try to do everything right.” #Blackhawks
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) January 8, 2021
• Ok, let’s get back to some fun weekend stuff.
• When you’re not going anywhere and don’t have to see anyone, you let the hair grow. For the Blackhawks, it was almost as if it was a team-building exercise.
• What’s a good weekend post without some bloopers right?
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) January 8, 2021
• Lankinen will want that one back.
• And if you’re like, “who’s Lankinen?” Well fear not!
Every time I look at the Blackhawks roster, it reminds me that I have no idea who any of these people are.
— Carolyn (@windycityintern) January 8, 2021
• We’ve got you covered heading into the 2021 season with our ‘Getting to know the Blackhawks’ series! So far we have covered the forwards and the defensive groups. On Monday, we’ll finish up with the goaltenders.
• Lastly, we know this will be a difficult season. Lots of things are changing and lots of things will be new to some hockey fans. But one thing that will be new and, to me at least, will be entertaining is a new penalty signal for the referees:
— Scouting The Refs (@ScoutingTheRefs) January 7, 2021
• Wes McCauley was truly ahead of his time.
— RDS (@RDSca) February 13, 2017