It’s finally October and regular season hockey is literally right around the corner for the Chicago Blackhawks! Their season opener is set for this Friday (Oct. 4) against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Blackhawks and Flyers will face off in Prague as part of the NHL’s 2019 Global Series.
Ever since the Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the second straight season last April, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the 2019-20 campaign. Numerous offseason changes and a solid preseason bring a renewed sense of optimism. At this point, there’s nothing much left to do but drop the puck. Let’s get this party started already!
In honor of the new season, we’re going to do something a little different for our October roundtable here at The Hockey Writers. We have some new staff members, so this is a good way for our readers to get to know everyone. Let’s have some fun with a few predictions about firsts for our favorite team. We’ll be sure to revisit this next month to see who came out on top!
Blackhawk With First Goal of the Season (5-on-5)
Meghan says: Patrick Kane
I think Kane’s going to build off last season and start it off strong.
Greg says: Alex DeBrincat
The money should be on the kid with the best shot on the team. All DeBrincat does is score.
Gail says: Brandon Saad
The first and second lines will be the focus from the get-go. This will free up Saad on the third line to power through for that first goal.
Adam says: Kane
He put the team on his back at times last year en route to a remarkable season. I can’t think of anyone better to keep that momentum rolling and open up the scoring for the Blackhawks.
Scott says: DeBrincat
I’m going with the momentum. I’m thinking there’s another big season coming for the Cat.
Blackhawk With First Assist of the Season
Meghan says: Jonathan Toews
Toews will be right next to Kaner for the first assist of the season. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Toews got the first goal and Kane the first assist. I expect them both to hit the ground running the second their skate blades touch the ice.
Greg says: Dylan Strome
If DeBrincat knocks in the first goal, then his partner in crime will have the assist. It’s simple math.
Gail says: Dominik Kubalik
Saad gets the goal and Kubalik with the feed. I can’t wait to see it!
Adam says: Toews
If the first goal goes to Kane, then it’s only fitting his best bud sets him up.
Scott says: Kane
An educated guess based on probability. He has so many goals; going with the odds.
Blackhawks’ First Penalty
Meghan says: Andrew Shaw
I’ll be surprised if Shaw doesn’t have a penalty in the first game. I’m sure he’s matured over the past few seasons, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss his shenanigans.
Greg says: Shaw
It’s hard not to pick the biggest meathead on the team.
Gail says: Shaw
He won’t be as bad this season as he’s been in the past with the bone-headed plays. I truly think Shaw has matured. But he’s gonna be so wound up on the big stage in Prague. He won’t be able to help himself.
Adam says: Brent Seabrook
He’s going to get beat and get caught hooking.
Scott says: Duncan Keith
I’m playing the percentages again. Keith is always near the top of the penalty minute stats.
Blackhawk With First Power Play Goal
Meghan says: Strome
I think he’ll be on the same level as Kane and Toews when it comes to starting off strong, and he tends to do well under pressure.
Greg says: Erik Gustafsson
A shot from the point, through heavy traffic. It’s the best way to score a power-play goal.
Gail says: DeBrincat
Kane and DeBrincat were feeling it on the power play during the last preseason game in Berlin. Even if it’s predictable, it’s only a matter of time. I say “the Cat” tallies the first goal on the man-advantage.
Adam says: Alex Nylander
You figure most of the power-play unit is a strong guess, but Nylander had a strong preseason and he’s going to fire an absolute rocket for the first PPG.
Scott says: Toews
Again, any good gambler goes with the odds.
Blackhawk in First Fight (For the Meatheads in All of Us)
Meghan says: Shaw
I’ll be disappointed if Shaw doesn’t start something in the first few games. I’ve missed the Blackhawks playing a physical game, and I’m excited for Shaw to stir things up!
Greg says: Shaw
Please see above in the penalty section!
Gail says: Zack Smith
Um, according to HockeyFights.com, Smith has been in 35 fights in his 11-year career with the Ottawa Senators. That’s kind of a lot. I reached out to my THW friend who writes for the Senators, and he said, “He’s more of a ‘get under your skin’ type of player. He’ll fight if he has to but I wouldn’t call him a goon that’s only there for that. He’s got an edge to his game.” Well, now we know.
Adam says: Drake Caggiula
My heart says Shaw, but my gut says Caggiula. Shaw is very likely to commit the first penalty AND get in the first fight. But I’m going to go with Caggiula playing the role of enforcer after someone takes a run at one of the Blackhawks’ talented forwards.
Scott says: Shaw
I just think he may mix it up to get back into the groove.
Blackhawks’ First Call-Up from Rockford
Meghan says: Adam Boqvist
I won’t be surprised if Boqvist spends the majority of the season in the NHL. He will be the first person the Blackhawks call if defense is lacking.
Greg says: Aleksi Saarela
This guy has the best shot of anybody in Rockford. He deserves a look at the NHL level.
Gail says: Anton Wedin
Wedin got a long look in the preseason and really should’ve made the team. But the Blackhawks chose instead to keep Kirby Dach to assess his talent after missing the preseason with a concussion. If/when they decide Dach isn’t ready, or a forward gets injured, Wedin will get the call.
Adam says: Dennis Gilbert
We heard Gilberts’ name a lot this preseason for all the right reasons, and he was one of the last cuts to pare down the roster. The Blackhawks’ defense will be improved, but still out of sorts this season. Gilbert will be called upon to see if he can keep it rolling as a much-needed physical defenseman.
Scott says: ????
You got me on this one. I have no idea; it’s a crapshoot.
Blackhawks’ Starting Goaltender Opening Night
Meghan says: Crawford
Robin Lehner just finished recovering from an injury, so I doubt the Blackhawks want to risk further injury by putting him in first. Crawford will start the first game.
Greg says: Crawford
Hard to see them going any other way, as long as he’s healthy.
Gail says: Crawford
I personally think if both “Crow” and Lehner stay healthy they will share a 50/50 split in net this season. But right now Crawford gets seniority. Out of pure respect for all his accomplishments, he should get the nod opening night.
Adam says: Crawford
You’ve gotta go with Crawford! While Lehner will definitely earn his time in the crease, there’s no way a healthy “Crow” doesn’t get the net on opening night.
Scott says: Crawford
I think the job should be his until there’s a reason for it not to be.
Blackhawks’ Record After First Month of Play
Meghan says: 8-2-1
There are 11 games in October and I expect a strong start, but don’t expect it to be perfect.
Greg says: 5-5-1
The Blackhawks do play the majority of their games at home, but there are some tough early games against the likes of the San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, and Nashville Predators.
Gail says: 7-4
It’s imperative the Blackhawks get off to a solid start this season. And the schedule certainly favors this, with 8 of their first 11 games at the United Center. Hopefully the Hawks can make the most of home ice and home cooking!
Adam says: 6-5
The Blackhawks’ first month features some good tests. They’ll likely be average out of the gate as they get their footing before they start to gel and put it all together as the season goes on.
Scott says: 6-3-2
I’m looking for a solid start with some hiccups along the way.
What do you think Blackhawks’ fans? Who will get these firsts for the team in this 2019-20 season? And which THW staff member will come out on top? The answers are only a game or two away. Keep it here for all the news and updates. And may the odds be forever in your (and the Blackhawks’) favor!