No. 3: Jokiharju is making his NHL debut.
This is a big deal, people.
Henri Jokiharju, who turned only 19 this past June, is making his NHL debut tonight. “I’ve waited, like, all my childhood to play in the NHL,” said Jokiharju per Tracey Myers. He continued, saying:
"“It’s going to be a huge game, but I’m not going to make it any bigger than what it’s going to be,” Jokiharju said. “I’m not going to try to think too much. It’s one game for me. Obviously, this is the best time of my life right now, so I’m just going to enjoy it.”"
Jokiharju’s confidence here is huge. Hopefully, confidence translates well to the ice and eliminates him from making too many defensive mistakes. Two-time Norris Trophy winning Duncan Keith will be playing alongside him tonight, so hopefully that contributes to his confidence and comfort level as well.
Jokiharju (28) will be one to keep your eyes on all season long, but tonight especially.
No. 4: The Chicago Blackhawks lines
In addition to Jokiharju skating with Keith on defense, here’s how the Blackhawks lines shape up tonight.
- DeBrincat (12)-Toews (19)-Kahun (24)
- Saad (20)-Schmaltz (8)-Kane (88)
- Kunitz (14)-Anisimov (15)-Kampf (64)
- Kruger (16)-Johnson (62)-Martinsen (29)
No. 5: This game is a must win.
I know that it’s only the first game of the season, but hear me out.
This team is coming off two less than desirable seasons in which they were swept out of the playoffs and missed them entirely. Obviously, these are far below the standards which the Chicago Blackhawks’ core have established for themselves.
Tonight they are starting their season off against debatably the worst team in the NHL, the Ottawa Senators. For a point of reference, 41 of 47 writers for the The Athletic’s NHL division picked them to be the worst team in the NHL this year. The Hawks split their preseason matchups with them (1-1) and went 2-4 in the preseason overall.
In those six preseason games, they lost two of them to the Detroit Red Wings who also earned votes as the NHL’s worst team this year.
It’s easy to dismiss these games as “just the preseason,” however that excuse doesn’t hold up anymore.
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Tonight the Chicago Blackhawks need to prove that they are better than these bottom-feeder teams. They need to prove that they are capable of winning in front of Cam Ward. They need to prove that the minimal moves they made in the offseason haven’t already come back to bite them.
They need to prove they are still capable of being the Chicago Blackhawks.
After a disappointing finish two seasons ago, the Blackhawks came out in their first game and beat the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins 10-1.
I’m not asking for a nine goal victory, but beating predictably the worst team in the NHL doesn’t feel like too much to ask, right?
I sure hope not.
The Chicago Blackhawks start at 7:30 CT tonight on WGN. Additionally, the radio broadcast can be found there as well.