The Chicago Blackhawks will play their home opener tonight against their historic rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. While neither team has had an incredibly hot start, the ‘Hawks will look to gain momentum going into this two-game series. But what will their competition look like?
The ‘Hawks picked up their first point of the season this past Tuesday in an overtime loss to the Florida Panthers, bringing their overall record to 0-3-1. On the other hand, the men of Motor City have had a slightly better start to their season, picking up their second win of the season against the Blue Jackets this week to bring their record to 2-2-0.
While this record isn’t great either, it is good enough to give the Red Wings first place in the restructured Central Division. Due to the COVID-19 restructuring for the shortened season, the Blackhawks and Red Wings are in the same division for the first time since 2013. This means they’ll be seeing each other a lot more, facing off in eight games this season, so Chicago had better take some notes.
One of the biggest issues for the ‘Hawks in this young season so far has been goaltending. The Blackhawks have so far played three different goalies, and while Kevin Lankinen played well last game, there is still no clear bonified starter. Many thought that Malcolm Subban would emerge as the number one guy, but his first game against Tampa was abysmal.
Detroit, meanwhile, has slightly better (or at the very least, more established) goaltenders under contract. Jonathan Bernier won a Stanley Cup in 2012 with the Los Angeles Kings. Thomas Greiss has bounced around a number of teams in the NHL and boasts a career save percentage of .915. While neither of these guys are superstars, Detroit certainly has better choices in net than the Blackhawks.
The Chicago Blackhawks play their first game at home tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Wings also have a number of decent offensive weapons that can find the back of the net. Their recently-named captain, Dylan Larkin, has four points on the young season, and with 109 career goals, is constantly a threat to score. In addition, veteran forward Bobby Ryan has scored four goals this year, and is racking up the points.
This isn’t to say that Chicago doesn’t have equal offensive weapons. However, with numerous forwards out for the season, the team has had to rely mostly on Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat for their goals, and Dominik Kubalik has had a nose for the net as well.
Special teams have also been an issue. While the ‘Hawks powerplay has been decent, their penalty kill was not good last game at all. The Panthers scored twice on the PP, and Chicago seemed overall undisciplined. While the Wings have only scored once on the powerplay this season, the ‘Hawks will have to be sure to try and stay out of the box to minimize Detroit’s chances.
The Blackhawks and Red Wings rivalry is one of the most historic, fun to watch, and timeless in the NHL. It’s good to know that they’ll be playing a ton of games this season, as the rivalry has cooled off a bit in recent years. While neither team is likely to have a great season, Detroit won’t go down without a fight, so the ‘Hawks had better be ready for a battle.