Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Everything You Need To Know For Opening Night

By Samuel Boland
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju (28) looks on in the second period during a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks on September 27, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju (28) looks on in the second period during a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks on September 27, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks open up their season this evening against the Ottawa Senators. Here’s what to watch during and what to know before tonight’s game which kicks off at 7:30 central time.

No. 1: Cam Ward is our starter.

Cam Ward was officially named the starter for tonight’s game. Corey Crawford‘s return has received a target date, October 18th, but it will be Ward’s job to lose until Corey comes back fully healthy.

Tonight is Ward’s first real chance to try and prove that he is capable of holding down the fort until Crawford is back. Against one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League, Ward’s performance tonight will be one that matters.

If he succeeds, great. If we win despite him, that’s okay too.

If he plays like he did during his infamous Detroit Red Wings start in which he gave up six goals, it could be a long season awaiting the return of Crawford.

It just might be anyway.

No. 2: Delia in, Forsberg out.

During the Chicago Blackhawks morning skate backup goaltender Anton Forsberg was injured after being hit by a puck. As a result, Rockford IceHogs goalie Collin Delia was called up for tonight’s game.

Some fans have pointed out the irony here which, to be fair, is comical. Anton Forsberg is paid to get hit by the puck and he typically doesn’t do a very good job of it. Now, he finally stops one and gets hurt in the process.

Perfect.

Thankfully, the injury happened early enough in the day so that Delia could still make the trip to O’Hare and catch a flight into Ottawa.

In other news, there will be no emergency-goaltender Scott Foster-like appearances tonight (so we think, anyway).

Delia played in just two games during the Blackhawks season last year and he didn’t look particularly great in either of them.

That said, he came a long way to get there as he started the season in the ECHL before clawing his way to the AHL where he went 17-7-2 with the Rockford IceHogs. In the AHL playoffs, he posted a .924 S% and a 2.34 goals-against average.

Here’s what Delia had to say on his brief trip to the NHL last year:

"“If you would have told me I was going to play in the NHL last year when I first signed, I would have called you crazy,” said Delia. “It was unfortunate to have all the injuries we had, but that’s hockey, that’s the way it goes. I’m just thankful my name was called.” Delia continued, saying “Now it’s just a matter of being ready for whatever they need from me. That’s where my head’s at.”"

Well, let’s hope Delia’s head stayed there because his name is being called once again. Though Delia’s chances of playing tonight are slim, if Forsberg’s injury lingers (or Ward puts up another six goals against performance) Delia could earn himself another start.

Forsberg was said to have gotten hit “up high” during practice, however rumors have hit Twitter claiming he may have broken a finger. If Forsberg were to miss time, Delia’s odds of earning NHL playing time this year will get significantly better. He looked good in preseason and this could end up being just the audition he needed to prove he’s a capable backup.

Stay tuned on that storyline.

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