When: Tuesday October 1st 7 p.m.
Where: LIVE ON NBCSN RADIO: WGN 720
As we gladly bid farewell to the dreary offseason, we can now welcome the new season with open arms. The Chicago Blackhawks open up the regular season with a showdown against the Washington Capitals. The night is made even more special with the Blackhawks’ banner raising ceremony. You can expect the United Center to be extremely loud as the fans welcome back the defending Stanley Cup champs.
The Blackhawks face a formidable challenge, not only in their opponent, but they also must fight the distraction of the banner raising ceremony. It’s an exciting moment to put the icing on the cake in commemorating their success, but it’s a whole new season, and everyone wants to take down the champs. The usual suspects will be on the ice for the Hawks, and that includes Marian Hossa. Hossa was recovering from a “minor” injury which kept him from playing in any preseason games. Ben Smith is the odd man out for the opener. That gives Jimmy Hayes and Joakim Nordstrom the nod to lace up the skates for opening night. In net, Crawford looks to be ready to start after resting in Saturday’s final preseason game. Crow is looking for a strong start after having a standout season last year. Kane, Toews, and Bickell will be making up the first line; looks like Quenneville is ready to get some offense going right out the gates. For the most part, the Hawks have held together, but the loss of Frolik might be particularly apparent against Washington’s notable power play. This will be a good test for this year’s squad, and I expect they are looking to make the most of it.
The Capitals are looking to put a dismal game seven behind them and put the right skate forward to start the year. Their team doesn’t look much different than last year, with the exception of the departure of Mike Ribeiro. The Caps will miss his ability to generate offense, but the team never really lacked offense to begin with. Captain Alex Ovechkin is back from Russia after running the torch, and he will be looking to pick up where he left off last year. If you don’t remember, he had an outstanding second half of the season, and snagged himself the Hart and the Rocket Richard Trophies. Troy Brouwer will be back in Chicago as well, though he may not be as excited to be there for the raising of the banner this time. Brouwer is one of the Caps’ key players and will be looking to make his presence known. Hawks fans will remember Martin Erat from his time with the Predators. Erat had a rough start with the Caps, missing a chunk of time with injuries. If he stays healthy, he will be a solid addition to the team. Finally, the Caps will be in their second year of operating under Adam Oates’ system. They found success with it last year, and another season will only make the team stronger.
Prediction: The Hawks may be fighting the distraction of opening night, but I think they will edge out the capitals 4-3 in regulation. What do you think the score will be? Let us know in the comments section, or find us on twitter @Blackhawk_Up and let us know there.