Friday, October 6, 2017

Regular Season Opener
Blackhawks vs Penguins
10-1 Win Recap

"No One Gets Left Behind"

by Gatekeeper

After all the circus-like hoopla and festivities ended Thursday afternoon, there was still an actual game to be played against the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Quite a way for the Blackhawks to test out their newly revamped roster in front of their home crowd. The Pens were coming in on the rear end of a back-to-back, which saw them raise their cup banner the night before and waste a third period comeback and lose to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Talk about a real kick in the groin. The Blues got to see what an actual Stanley Cup banner looks like up close, though, so they had that going for them. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, certainly didn't go easy on the visiting Penguins in their home, and season, opener. In fact, they put on a real show for the United Center faithful. Not only did they put on a show during the game, but they really pulled at everyone's heartstrings by surprising us all with a Bryan Bickell One More Shift celebration before this one.

The first period could not have possibly gone any better. The Blackhawks scored FIVE goals and chased the starting goalie before the Pens knew what hit them. Five goals on twenty one shots was the tally as the Hawks finished the first period of their season. What more really needs to be said? This was about as perfect a period as we could expect. It would not have been all that surprising to see the Hawks put up at least another goal or two, with the pressure they had.
Officially, the Penguins had 12 shots on net, but I can not remember more than 7 or 8.

The Pens were able to get their only goal of the night, early in the second period, but the Blackhawks continued to steamroll over them with three more unanswered goals. The shots were even, at 14, but clearly the Blackhawks were in a zone.

The third period was just a formality, until the Pens pulled some meathead shenanigans in the waning moments. The Hawks did finally get to double digits, a franchise record for a season opener, which obviously didn't sit well with the champs. Phil Kessel and useless big dummy Ryan Reaves earned late misconducts, as a result. Anyhow, One down, 81 more to go.

The Good
  • Just over six minutes into the game, with the Blackhawks buzzing the Pittsburgh net already, Patrick Kane set up Ryan Hartman with a fancy behind the back reverse pass that Hartman put into a wide open net. Antti Niemi was lost as to where the puck was, and was looking over the wrong shoulder. In his defense, they teach you to move to the other post once the player crosses the midpoint of the net. This one looked bad on Niemi at first glance but it was all defense, or lack thereof.
  • Moments later, Brandon Saad then gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 off a 2-on-1 with Richard Panik. It must be pointed out that the rush began when league golden boy Sidney Crosby left a drop pass for no one in the Hawks zone, and Saad took the puck the other way. No mention on the broadcast, though. How shocking.
  • Twenty eight seconds after the Saad goal, Nick Schmaltz jumped into the action and squeezed a backhand past Niemi, on the back door, after another fancy Patrick Kane setup. That was three goals in 1:13.
  • Less than two minutes after that third goal, Brandon Saad notched his second goal of the night off a terrible Antti Niemi rebound. Niemi was absolutely flailing through a sea of bodies while Saad bore down with most of the net wide open. That said, Niemi got NO help, either. Four goals on thirteen shots and Niemi didn't make it ten minutes into the game before he was yanked. Supposed "elite" top 5 goalie according to NHL rankings, Matt Murray, did no better.
  • With three minutes left in the first period, Patrick Sharp scored his first goal back with the Blackhawks and their fifth of the game. I was very hesitant about having the old guy back but he looks good enough to be well worth $800,000.
  • After the Penguins ruined the shutout, it was Patrick Kane's turn to actually score a goal, after setting up two in the first period. He rushed up the right side past Brian Dumoulin and roofed a short side backhand over Murray's glove in highlight reel fashion.
  • Richard Panik was the next in the long line of Blackhawks to get his name in the goal column when Nick Schmaltz picked up a rebound to Matt Murray's left and dished to Panik for a slam dunk.
  • Speaking of Nick Schmaltz, he was the recipient of the 8th goal of the night, his first, on a one timer from Patrick Kane in the second period. This assist was Kane's 4th point of the game.
  • Five minutes into the third period, Brandon Saad completed the hat trick on a nice feed from Jonathan Toews. At least the crowd threw more than 8 hats on the ice this time.
  • The exclamation point, and tenth goal, was from Brent Seabrook late in the third period. He was, for some reason, down low in front of the Pittsburgh net and whacked a puck out of the air, past Matt Murray.
  • Brandon Saad, right? This kid is something really special and he is just in a zone. He already has two hat tricks, including his preseason one against Detroit, in only a handful of games back. Think he's happy to be back? I sure am glad he is. Saad makes it much easier to stomach the loss of Artemi Panarin, for sure.
  • The "improbable" Dick Panik looked like he is just carrying his career best season right into this second full season with the Blackhawks. He looks stronger and more confident, if you can believe that.
  • John Hayden continues to make plays happen. If he keep this up, he will force Quenneville to move him up the lineup, which is a wonderful problem to have.
  • It'll be lost in all the craziness, but Corey Crawford pretty quietly had a great night. His break-a-way save in the second period on Evgeni Malkin was a prime example of how well he played. He saved 28 of 29 and was perfect at even strength.
  • I am not a big Jamal Mayers fan as an analyst but Adam Burish and Brian Campbell were pretty entertaining in the intermissions. Burish, especially, was pretty charismatic. We need to have these guys involved more, and less Konroyd/Mayers.

The Bad
  • The only real Pens highlight of the night came on a 5-on-3 advantage. When you have to face Crosby, Kessel and Malkin all on the ice together for a powerplay, there isn't much you can do. Sid easily found Kessel on the back door which ruined the shutout for Corey Crawford.
  • When you score 10 goals, there usually isn't much to complain about but the Hawks were 0-6 on the powerplay.

The Ugly
  • The Pens played former Blackhawk Antti Niemi in net and the Hawks shelled him. I remember a "supposed" expert once telling me what a good goalie Niemi was before his first season in Dallas, and how good the Stars would be with the Niemi/Lehtonen combo. He has since put up .905 and .872 save percentages, and had to basically beg for a backup job with the Pens.
  • I know I have been labelled the Alex Debrincat hater, so it is my duty to point out that the Blackhawks scored TEN goals and the dynamic golden boy didn't have a single point. the only other forwards that didn't end up with a point on the scoresheet were fourth liners Tanner Kero and Lance Bouma. His lone highlight was a hit on Ian Cole, at the whistle, in the second period.
  • Olli Maata, Connor Sheary, and Kris Letang were all each minus five. YIKES!

The Lineblender
Left Wing - Center - Right Wing
Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik
Ryan Hartman - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Artem Anisimov - Alex Debrincat
John Hayden - Tanner Kero - Lance Bouma

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Michal Kempny - Connor Murphy
Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta


Shoutcast Player


Facebook Page

Blog Archive