Denver was lit last night. A banner was raised and then the Blackhawks took the ice and handed the Avalanche six power plays. SIX! The Hawks were going to struggle to keep up with the Avs any way, but giving a team with far superior talent that many advantages is a recipe for disaster — and that’s what we got. The Hawks dropped their first game of the year 5-2.
- Before the game started, the defending champs raised their banner. Jack Johnson was on the team that won the Stanley Cup last year, but now he’s a Blackhawk. That didn’t stop him from watching the pregame ceremony and, in a wonderful moment, skating out to join his former teammates as the banner went into the rafters in Denver.
- After the final horn sounded we shared our three stars of the night and a few takeaways, but here are a few more thoughts about the game last night:
- If we get a full season of the Jonathan Toews we got in the first game of the season, the doubters will be awfully quiet in March and April. He was a force on the ice, which was a really nice thing to see. If he’s going to play with a chip on his shoulder to prove people wrong, I am all-in.
- Petr Mrazek was solid. He stopped 30 of 35, which isn’t great on the surface, but when the skaters in front of him the defending champs six power plays the result was doomed. He made some impressive saves and really kept this from being a much bigger blowout. Here’s what Luke Richardson said after the game about the penalties hurting the Hawks:
“Unfortunately, we fed their fuel for a little bit. Especially in the second period, we shot ourselves in the foot a few times. We responded a little better in the third; we had some good fight. But when you’re in the box against this team, bad things are going to happen.”
- Buddy Robinson dressed for this game and was credited with three hits in 11:03. He did skate 64 seconds short-handed in the game but he struggled to keep up with the speed of the Avalanche. He’s already cleared waivers and will likely head to Rockford once Jason Dickinson gets his immigration paperwork figured out.
- Jarred Tinordi was credited with six hits, one takeaway and a blocked shot in 16:54 on the ice. For a guy who just joined the team a day or so before the game, he wasn’t terrible. I would prefer Alex Vlasic in that spot — or Caleb Jones or Jake McCabe — but Tinordi held his own. As a 7/8 defenseman this year, what we got on Wednesday is workable.
- I really, really like what I saw from Philipp Kurashev and MacKenzie Entwistle up front. And I thought Filip Roos had a strong night on the back end as well. The effort was there, and that’s what we’re asking for this season.
- So where exactly is Frank Nazar? The 13th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, who was highly touted heading to Michigan this season, hasn’t appeared in a game yet for the Wolverines. Scott Powers of The Athletic reported on his most recent podcast (with Mark Lazerus) that Nazar might miss a couple months with an injury, which sucks.
- Nazar has dealt with should injuries in the past, so hopefully this is just a bump in the road (no pun intended). Still, he was arguably the most electric offensive forward prospect in the organization after the draft and, like Kevin Korchinski, showed elite speed when working out in Chicago this summer.
- Sam Lafferty did the dance with Josh Manson (who, by the way, was born in Hinsdale). The fine folks at HockeyFights dot com have the video breakdown.
- Mark Lazerus at The Athletic offered some really good perspective on the Blackhawks rebuild through the lens of the current Avalanche roster. For those who have quickly forgotten, Colorado was the worst team in the league — by three touchdowns — four years ago. And, that year, they didn’t even win the NHL Draft Lottery (gasp!). In fact, they lost it completely, falling all the way to No. 4 overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. But a kid named Cale Makar was available at that selection and the rest is history. Give this a read because it speaks to both the potential of being terrible and the potential pitfalls of hoping for the top pick to fall into your lap.
- The Bears wished the Blackhawks good luck last night. Which is nice.
- Montreal opened their home schedule last night. Carey Price might never play again, but man if this doesn’t pull at your heart strings I don’t know what will. And, considering where the Blackhawks are with two of their own franchise icons, I hope this sets the bar for next week’s home opener at the United Center.
- Then they went out and won the dang thing against the Maple Leafs inside the final 20 seconds of regulation. I absolutely love this because… well, Montreal is supposed to be at the bottom of the NHL with the Blackhawks and Coyotes this season, so every win — or even sign of a pulse — helps the Blackhawks’ chances of a top-three pick next summer.
- Finally, since we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about prospects and growing a better pipeline here, why not turn our attention to another rebuilding team in this town that traded fan favorites for kids over the past couple years. It appears to be working for the Cubs.