The Chicago Blackhawks won their first season opener since 2018 against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night at the PPG Paints Arena. Coming back from a 2-0 deficit, the Blackhawks were able to score four unanswered goals to win 4-2. We caught glimpses of what the future looks like in Chicago, and here are five things to remember going into tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins.
1. The kids are alright
The hockey world has its eyes on this year’s first overall draft pick Connor Bedard, and we saw why last night. Bedard took the faceoff circle against his childhood idol, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. While he only won two out of 13 of his faceoffs, he made his presence known. He had five shots and earned his first official NHL point on linemate Ryan Donato’s first goal with the team.
Alongside Bedard, we also saw defensive prospect Kevin Korchinski skate his rookie lap in their NHL debuts. They were two of six Blackhawks to see their first opening night game, also including forwards Lukas Reichel and Cole Guttman and defensemen Alex Vlasic and Wyatt Kaiser. Chicago took their first game of the season with these players on the ice, and we’ll likely see more wins with these players this coming season.
2. Petr Mrázek kept the team alive
With 38 saves on 40 shots, Mrázek stood on his head to keep the Blackhawks in the game. With a young team in front of him, he did a lot to keep learning opportunities from turning into Penguin goals. If he’s able to stay healthy and continues to play like he did last night, the Blackhawks will catch a lot of teams off guard.
3. The veterans will teach the rookies a thing or two
Chicago brought in a lot of veteran presence to serve as role models for their rookies. Two offseason acquisitions helped the Blackhawks win, with Donato scoring the first goal of the game and Nick Foligno notching an empty netter. Corey Perry picked up an assist on Jason Dickinson’s game-winning goal, and Taylor Hall made two shots on the top line.
These players will help Chicago’s prospects learn and eventually grow into different leadership roles on the team.
4. Seth Jones looked like a top defenseman
Fans have had mixed feelings about Jones since he came to Chicago, but last night he picked up his first point of the season on Guttman’s goal. He’s wearing the A on his jersey once again this season, along with defenseman Connor Murphy, and Foligno and Perry will rotate wearing it. If Jones continues to play with consistency, Chicago might see him become a team leader.
5. The Blackhawks winning their first season opener since 2018 is refreshing
For the first time in five seasons, the Blackhawks secured victory in their season opener. Blackhawks fans can hold out hope for a season of excitement. Is this team a cup contender? No, probably not. Are we about to witness the humble beginnings of a cup contender? Maybe so.
The Blackhawks take on the Bruins at 7:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden.