The Chicago Blackhawks have completed their first week of the 2015-2016 season. They raised the banner on Wednesday, and promptly lost opening night at home to the New York Rangers. No shame in that considering the Rangers have yet to lose so far this year. The ‘Hawks then had a tough home and home back-to-back series with the Islanders on Friday and Saturday. They won in New Jersey, spoiling the opening of the Islanders new Stadium, then came back home and dispatched the Islanders again 24 hours later. That’s 3 games in 4 nights to start the season, plus all the emotion that came with the Blackhawks receiving their Championship rings and raising the banner.
While it is way too early to draw definitive conclusions, there are a few items of note in this young season for the Blackhawks:
- The second line of Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin sure is trying to help fans forget about losing Brad Richards, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad. Panarin has two goals and two assists while Kane has three goals and three assists through the first three games. Anisimov also has a goal, a short-handed one no less. Here is some of what I am talking about from Saturday night’s action:
- Speaking of Panarin, it seems he has already become a social media Darling (ahem), despite his lack of ability to speak or understand English very well.
Darling on Panarin: "He’s an incredible player, tons of talent. Not fun to play against in practice for me." #Blackhawks
— Tracey Myers (@Tramyers_NHL) October 11, 2015
Heck he even seems to like his new nickname “The Breadman”.
— Artemi Panarin Fans (@PanarinArtemi72) October 11, 2015
- Corey Crawford and Scott Darling are picking up right where they left off last year. Crawford settled down after period 1 on Wednesday, when two of the three goals were from defensive lapses. He was solid on Friday night giving up only 2 while keeping his team in the game until Kane won it in overtime on the power play. Darling was excellent Saturday giving up only one goal on Saturday night.
- Speaking of overtime, I was wondering what line Coach Quenneville would trot out first. Well, on Friday night it was Kane, Toews and Keith. That is three Conn Smythe Trophy winners. This is a nightmare sure to that keep opponents awake at night well past Halloween.
- The defense is still a work in progress after the top four/five. In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Blackhawks are actively seeking another experienced D-Man via either a trade or waiver acquisition. Thus far, Trevor Van Riemsdyk seems to be a solid fifth man, so that leaves the Blackhawks in search of a number six. Yes, Runblad and Svedberg are playing, but they are likely one bad turnover away from Coach Q’s doghouse.
Defense Pairs will be shuffled. Svedberg to play tomorrow according to Postgame comments. Q not happy with last night's Goals. #Blackhawks
— Dan Vuko (@TheChiTownKid) October 8, 2015
The Blackhawks now have three days off before playing the Flyers on Wednesday night. That is plenty of time for Panarin, A.K.A. The Breadman to brush up on his English and break Twitter some more. Also plenty of time to sign the obvious endorsement deal with Panera. More importantly, the time off allows the boys some time to rest and recover from a successful, yet crazy and emotion filled first week.
Until next time Blackhawks fans!
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength