On Opening Night in Denver, the Blackhawks were supposed to get their butts kicked. And they did. But not by as much as some thought they would. That game had some questions for the defending champs because of the players who had left and the new faces being integrated into the lineup.
On Saturday night in Boston, the best team in the NHL more than one full month into the regular season welcomed the Blackhawks into their barn and Chicago hung around for a while. They did that because their goaltender stood on his head for 38 minutes, but nonetheless the Blackhawks were within one goal with two minutes left in the second period.
Unfortunately, the wheels fell off when a tough penalty on Jonathan Toews turned into a power play goal and then another quick goal doubled the Bruins’ score inside the final two minutes of the second period and the hopes of Chicago appeared to be all but dead. From there the Bruins put it in cruise control and kept the puck moving for 20 minutes. Boston added two more goals in a third period that didn’t register a pulse from the Blackhawks and just needed the extra point to make it a full football score.
Star 1: Petr Mrazek
This poor guy did everything he could to keep his team in the game but at some point the dam was going to break. That point came with Toews in the penalty box and 1:50 left in the second period, when Jake DeBrusk posted up between Jake McCabe and the net and put in a marker. That goal made it 3-1 Bruins. David Krejci added Boston’s fourth goal 68 seconds later and any hope the Blackhawks may have been clinging to was seemingly gone. After 40 minutes, the shots showed Boston up 30-9. Yeah, that’s a 21-shot advantage after two periods.
Star 2: Luke Richardson (and Staff)
After a modest power play opportunity came and went without the Blackhawks scoring in the first period, the Blackhawks went with five forwards (Kane, Toews, Raddysh, Domi and Kurashev) and scored almost immediately on the advantage. A Max Domi shot was redirected into the net by Toews to get the Blackhawks back to within 2-1. The tweak was smart at a good time and it worked.
Star 3: the 2023 NHL Draft
Chicago came into Saturday night’s game with what would be the ninth spot in the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery (based on point percentage). The teams behind the Blackhawks in that regard all lost again on Saturday night, but the Blackhawks did their part in playing hard and staying healthy while taking the L.
- The Blackhawks were looking up at a 4-1 score after two periods, but two of their centers were performing well at the dot. Toews won 7 of 11 and Jason Dickinson won 6 of 9 faceoffs in the first couple periods. It was good to see someone other than Toews not only winning faceoffs, but getting out there for a good number of them. Head coach Luke Richardson has relied heavily on Toews lately (rightfully so, he came into Saturday night’s game the NHL leader) but more balance is a good thing. When the final horn sounded, Toews had won 9 of 15 and Dickinson won 8 of 11 in a good effort at the dot.
- I’m still not feeling the reverse retro jerseys, even after seeing them on the ice. It looks like they threw the Indian head logo on the one shoulder at the last minute… but could they not put it on both shoulders? The whole thing still looks cheap to me. Sorry, kids.
- I thought Ian Mitchell was okay in his NHL debut for this season. He didn’t get much playing time but somewhat surprisingly got on the ice for some penalty killing time as well as on the power play. It’s really hard to grade a young player’s performance in a game like this because the Bruins were just clearly in another class than the Blackhawks.
- Patrick Kane was held without a point on his birthday for only the second time in seven opportunities. The last time he failed to register a point on his birthday was back in 2010 against Calgary at the United Center.
- The Blackhawks better show up with better mojo for Marian Hossa’s night tomorrow than they did tonight because this was a good ol’ fashioned ass kicking.