About Last Night, NHL on TNT, the Hit on Dach, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

So … that could have gone better.

Last night’s matchup had all the fanfare and excitement you could pack into opening night for the Chicago Blackhawks. New faces, familiar faces, high expectations, and then … *fart*. Three goals in a five-minute span in the opening period, where at one point the Blackhawks were out-shot 16-2 by the Colorado Avalanche and the game was effectively over. While the final score was 4-2, the game was never that close. It was game one of 82, so there’s plenty of hockey left to play, but the Blackhawks don’t have a lot of time to correct course from this kind of start. They’ll have to be much better tomorrow night when they play a much more evenly matched New Jersey Devils team.

•   The best moments of the game were the opening moments for the Blackhawks, when Jonathan Toews took the ice for the opening faceoff of the season, which he won.

•   It was a moment nearly 14 months in the making after Toews missed all of the 2020-21 season.

•   The shine of the new season wore off so fast for the Blackhawks though. Just five minutes into the game, Jack Johnson, yes JACK JOHNSON, got a breakaway and buried it for the opening goal of the season for the Avalanche.

•   It was all downhill from there.

•   The Avalanche were all over the Blackhawks in the opening period, setting a pace and tone that Chicago could not match. Credit to the TNT broadcast for having players mic’d up in-game, which has already provided some amazing content. What we got from Marc-André Fleury last night during the opening onslaught was gold.

•   Glad he could have a laugh while having to face his first barrage of shots as a member of the Blackhawks. He’ll have to get used to that.

•   Down 3-0, the Blackhawks had a bit of life breathed back into them in the first period after drawing a penalty to slow the attack by Colorado. On the man-advantage Dominik Kubalík made them pay.

•   Kubalík scored the first goal of the season for the Blackhawks in a spot on the powerplay that he hopes to be utilized all season. His powerplay usage was point of contention for me last season with Jeremy Colliton and hopefully his deployment is more often on the powerplay and playing along with Jonathan Toews again can see him back on his 30+ goal pace like he was in his rookie year.

•   Kubalík was one of the few bright spots for the Blackhawks last night.

•   After falling to a 4-1 deficit in the second period, the Blackhawks started to turn things around in the third period. Granted, it’s likely the Avalanche may have pulled their foot off the gas a bit, but the Blackhawks mounted some sort of a comeback thanks to Connor Murphy.

•   Ultimately, it wasn’t enough and Chicago dropped game one to the Avalanche 4-2. Colorado looked like the Stanley Cup contender everyone believes they will be and the Blackhawks did not look like a Playoff team many hope they will be.

•   The best player on the night for Chicago was Kirby Dach. He looked healthy after missing two-thirds of last season with a wrist injury, played physical, won battles, and had two grade-A chances to turn the tide of the game in favor of the Blackhawks but didn’t convert either chance. Outside of those missed opportunities, he still was the best player on the ice for the Blackhawks last night. And it came this close to being ruined by a garbage hit from Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog.

•   Rightfully, Landeskog will have a meeting with the NHL department of player safety.

•   Following the game, Dach said he felt fine after the hit (thankfully) and was hard on himself for not being able to capitalize on his chances.

•   It was hardly Dach’s fault for the Blackhawks’ woes last night.

•   Starting games on time is a cliché of sports, but it’s right. You have to be ready from the jump, otherwise you get results like the Blackhawks last night. Athletes need to be prepared, but it also comes down to coaching preparedness, too. This is what was frustrating last night from a fan perspective: they seem to always start slow.

•   At some point, you have to find a common denominator to the slow starts. If this continues, much like it did last season, chances need to be made. Somewhere.

•   While it’s easy to panic after a performance like that from the Blackhawks, especially given their expectations, you have to remember this is still game one. There are 81 more of them. Chicago will need to play a handful of games before we can really see how the new players will gel into the lineup. Also take into consideration that the team is playing without two defensemen that were slated to be in the NHL lineup out of training camp and have an overflow of forwards that could/should play in the NHL this season, so finding the right combinations will take a few games. Hopefully less.

•   Prior to the game last night, Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman spoke to the Chicago media. He touched on a number of topics heading into the season, most notably the trade rumors surrounding Dylan Strome.

•   I still believe Strome will be dealt. Same with either of Malcolm Subban or Collin Delia at some point this season.

•   The broadcast on TNT last night met my expectations for their first go of it.

•   Wayne Gretzky will take some time to get his broadcasting rhythm, but for his first shot in a studio analyst role in a long time, he did well. The rest of the panel with Liam McHugh, Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Rick Tocchet played off of each other well and it did have some semblance of the NBA on TNT broadcast vibe, which is clearly Turner’s goal.

•   It helped to have Charles Barkley involved, too.

•   You can’t have him in the studio all the time, but his first cross-over appearance went probably as perfectly as TNT wanted.

https://twitter.com/BR_OpenIce/status/1448448450312474627?s=20

•   He also made a save on Wayne freakin Gretzky. How about that?!

•   The first game on TNT saw the Capitals handle the Rangers behind a four-point night from Alex Ovechkin. One of the big storylines of the league and the night was Ovechkin’s pursuit of breaking Gretzky’s all-time goals record. He got off to a hot start chasing that record last night.

•   Not one, but two goals from Ovechkin in the opener moved him into fifth all-time in career goals, only trailing Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Jaromir jar, and Brett Hull.

•   If Ovechkin scores 37 goals this season, which is highly probable, he will be third all-time in goals.

•   And two of the greatest goal-scorers in the history of hockey had a nice chat after the Capitals’ win.

•   I’m encouraged by what I saw from both ESPN and TNT over the past two days with their broadcasts. Hard to say both are already better than what we had with NBC, but it’s new and it looks like while ESPN will play more into the nostalgia of the NHL on ESPN, TNT is focused on bringing the game a fresh look and feel. And I like both approaches.

•   Former Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, now with Edmonton, had a rough go of it last night in his Oilers debut.

•   Glad to see Keith get up right away and seemed “fine.”

•   This morning, right before the Ottawa Senators were slated to begin the season, the last remaining restricted free agent in the league signed his contract, making Brady Tkachuk a member of the Senators for the next seven years.

•   Must be nice.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all have a great Thursday!

written by

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.

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