The NHL Draft is over and the summer rolls on. Before we know it, teams will be taking the ice, so let’s look at five games the Blackhawks have slated that we’re most looking forward to this season.
The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off a really frustrating year. The lowlights included losing a two-time Cup-winning netminder for most of the season, seeing down years from the best stars and feeling lost even at home for a good chunk of 2017-18. It didn’t look bright, but post-NHL Draft, this group seems like they’re ready to forget the last season and get back to what they’re known for.
Being one of the winningest franchises of the past decade comes with a lot of pressure and stress. The Blackhawks still topped attendance in 2017-18. Fans hope and believe the slump won’t last long. After big dreams of bolstering the future defensive core with two first round picks in the draft, things still look bright at the Madhouse on Madison.
So what games should we look forward to most in 2018-19?
5. October 7 vs. Toronto
There’s nothing quite like the home opener. The Blackhawks always play up for the opener; just look at the Pittsburgh game last season. Rest assured, the Blackhawks hope for a similar home jump start against a Toronto Maple Leafs team that feels they’re very close to putting it together.
Who doesn’t love fun matchups against big-time players? Auston Matthews headlines a Leafs lineup that you won’t get to see in Chicago often, so I fully expect to see a large and loud crowd on Madison for the first home game of the season.
The Blackhawks start out with a pair of road games, but are home six of the following eight. Those six include five great matchups with teams outside the Central, starting with Toronto. Will the Blackhawks have the new look group humming or will cracks start to show early?
The Maple Leafs took both games in overtime against the Blackhawks in 2017-18. For a franchise continually building toward hopeful production, it’s a perfect early-season test for a Blackhawks team that started well but definitely didn’t end well last season.
Will one of these two teams surprise everyone and get Tavares? Okay, I won’t go there. This should be fun for multiple reasons outside of just starpower. Which netminder will find ways to get stops? Which fourth-line guys will start to shine early in the season?