Season Opening Recap: Blackhawks beat Senators 4-3 in OT

  

After some panic and goalie drama earlier in the day, the Blackhawks visited the much maligned Ottawa Senators to open the regular season.

Cam Ward got his first official Chicago Blackhawks start in goal, Thursday night, while the Senators sent 15 year NHL veteran (and Park Ridge native) Craig Anderson to face the team he once rooted for as a kid and played for in the dark days. It was not the starters that caused the drama, as Anton Forsberg was hit with a high shot in the morning skate and was helped off the ice in obvious discomfort. As a result, Collin Delia was recalled on an emergency injury basis to backup Ward.

The Blackhawks dressed rookies Henri Jokiharju, Dominik Kahun, and Luke Johnson in their first NHL games, while John Hayden and Brandon Davidson watched the game from the press box.

This was your Blackhawks starting lineup:
Alex DeBrincatJonathan Toews – Dominik Kahun
Brandon SaadNick SchmaltzPatrick Kane
Chris KunitzArtem AnisimovDavid Kampf
Marcus Kruger – Luke Johnson – Andreas Martinsen

Duncan Keith – Henri Jokiharju
Brandon ManningBrent Seabrook
Erik GustafssonJan Rutta

As the puck dropped, defensive breakdowns at each end quickly gave each team really good chances at both ends. The veteran goalies kept the scoring from opening up before all the fans got into their seats. Even with their early efforts, the scoreless tie did not last long.

The Blackhawks scored the first goal of the game (and season) just five minutes into the first period. Sophomore forward Alex Debrincat nearly turned the puck over in his own end, but followed up the ill advised pass and drove right up the middle of the ice. He used the Sens defenseman as a screen to surprise and beat Craig Anderson.

Ottawa came right back and tied the game just a few minutes after Debrincat had given the Blackhawks the lead. Zach Smith unleashed an innocent looking shot from the point towards Ward. Mark Stone was fighting for position (and winning) in front of the Blackhawks net with Duncan Keith and was able to get enough of a stick on the shot that the puck flipped up and over the Blackhawks netminder, eventually ending up in the net.

The end to end action was far from over. This time Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews led a rush by himself. It seemed as though he had an hour to carry the puck into the Senators end of the ice and size up their goalie. Toews found his spot and ripped a shot through Anderson’s blocker side to give the visiting team the lead once again.

With about eight minutes left in the first period, the home team came marching right back. The Blackhawks were running around in their own end, eventually leaving rookie Maxime Lajoie to cut right up the middle of the ice, take a pass from Matt Duchene, and bury a one-timer past Cam Ward.

Summer free agent signee Chris Kunitz showed his supposed veteran leadership, by taking a terrible offensive zone penalty to give the Sens a gift of a power play. Nine seconds into that powerplay, Colin White took a pass down low to Ward’s right and stuffed the puck into the net. Just that quickly, the Blackhawks blew two leads and were down 3-2 going into the intermission.

After twenty minutes, the Blackhawks led in shots 18-10 but were out chanced in the high danger variety 6-5. Cam Ward had a really rough time giving up three goals on just 10 shots.  Luckily for everyone watching, that would not last.

The poor defense, though, continued as the second period began.  The goaltenders were able to keep from surrendering goals at the one-every-four-minutes pace. In fact, neither team was able to score in the middle frame.

Cam Ward looked much more composed and comfortable, as well.  He was able to keep the Sens from scoring on a late period powerplay with a nice sprawl across the crease that slightly redeemed his awful first Blackhawks period.

Unfortunately, both teams took sloppy penalties in the final four minutes of the second, which eventually led to the Blackhawks basically finishing the period on the powerplay.

A terrible powerplay

Ottawa was able to hold off the whimpering Blackhawks man advantage, and sauntered into the second intermission still holding a 3-2 lead. Shots were 10-8 in favor of the home team, but the high danger chances dropped to 3-3.

Twenty-five seconds into the third period, it looked like the Senators may have taken a two goal lead but the goal was waved off by the officiating crew because of a high sticking violation. This followed a couple of earlier solid saves by Ward.

Following the negated goal, the Hawks definitely ramped up their pressure, and were able to generate several solid scoring chances as the game reached the fifty minute mark. Craig Anderson hung onto the lead for Ottawa , though.

In the Blackhawks end, Cam Ward settled in nicely to make a couple more sharp saves as the clock ticked down. Chicago area native Ryan Dzingel had a late chance in all alone and was stopped with a highlight save.

With eight minutes remaining, a double-shifting Patrick Kane jumped on the ice with the fourth line. He held onto the puck behind the net long enough to draw all the Senators’ attention. Brent Seabrook jumped into the play and Kane set the table for the veteran defenseman to one-time the puck past a helpless Anderson.

Henri Jokiharju did a nice job of drawing a Blackhawks powerplay with just over four minutes remaining in regulation, but the Hawks could generate little more than a faint whisper. As was the case most of last season, the powerplay continued to fail Chicago when they really needed it most.

Regulation ended with the teams knotted up at three goals a piece, and the Blackhawks leading in shots 41-25.

Just moments (38 seconds to be exact) into the extra period, Jonathan Toews found a cherry picking Patrick Kane at the Sens’ blue line and fed him for a break-a-way. Kane did what he does, roofing a smooth backhand over the left shoulder of Craig Anderson for the game winning goal.

Pluses

  • Jonathan Toews looks like he might be able to have a bounce back season.  He had a really good preseason, and is carrying that momentum into the regular season, with a goal and an assist.  He had almost 70% at the faceoff dots, but, hey, faceoffs are over-rated, right?
  • Not Patrick Kane’s best overall game but an assist on the game tying goal, scoring the game winner and having six shots on net is good enough for me.
  • Alex Debrincat scores the first Blackhawks goal of the season, which is a very positive start after a scoreless preseason.
  • Henri Jokiharju was not exceptional but he certainly wasn’t bad, especially for a 19-year-old rookie defenseman.  He still has a lot to learn, but he looks to me like he could possibly be that next “Vintage Brent Seabrook” type someday to Boqvist’s “Vintage Duncan Keith” type.  Again, long way to go, but the raw talent is there; if Quenneville doesn’t beat the confidence out of him first.

Minuses

  • Sorry, Nick Schmaltz and his half-assing doesn’t do it for me.  He might be the Blackhawks version of “Smokin’ Jay Cutler“.  The narrative is that he is the first line of the future but he defers to the perimeter game, makes strange choices on odd-man rushes, and is an absolute adventure in his own end.  Don’t forget he cannot win a faceoff either.  He has to play center now because they have no one else but, at the moment, Nick Schmaltz is a good top-six wing.  Nothing more.
  • While I like Brandon Saad, a lot, he is still struggling to find his footing.
  • I cannot completely come down on Cam Ward,  He was really good after the first period.  BUT, that first period…
  • Chris Kunitz is a $1 million piece of trash, taking playing time away from more talented players.  Yes, he is only on the third line, but when he does things like take bad offensive zone penalties that lead to powerplay goals against, he is part of the problem, not the solution.
  • The Kruger-Johnson-Martinsen line was the worst on the team, possession-wise.  Digging a little deeper, they all played under nine mins each and did not have a single offensive zone start.
  • They had all summer to improve the powerplay and it still produces the same brutal result.  Five minutes of powerplay time, five shots on net, no goals, slow, unimaginative.

Center Ice Forums Season Opening Recap: Blackhawks beat Senators 4-3 in OT

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  • #8976
    Jeff Osborn
    Keymaster

    After some panic and goalie drama earlier in the day, the Blackhawks visited the much maligned Ottawa Senators to open the regular season. Cam Ward go
    [To continue reading full article, click here: Season Opening Recap: Blackhawks beat Senators 4-3 in OT]

    @PuckinHostile on Twitter

    #8977
    Tim M.
    Participant

    A few thoughts thoughts on the game: Gustaffson is the Hawks best d-man. Keith ain’t coming back to what he once was. Rutta is a Czech league d-man. Manning wasn’t as bad as I thought. I wonder how many more games like this Cam Ward has in him because he kept them  in the game. Rockford has a better power play than the Hawks. What’s so hard about replacing Keith, who’s never been real good on the power play with Seabrook, who at least has a hard shot that can get through, and  and let Gustaffson be the QB, stick Anisimov in front of the net, and let Toews be in the center instead of Schmaltz. They could also try Kunitz in front of the net on the power play, and maybe get some value from him.

    #8982
    Alan Parsons
    Participant

    I thought Manning was terrible.   He is a pylon.  Out of position.  Weak.  Always reaching with his stick, gliding, staring at the play that is already passed him by.   Seabrook looked fine.  Gus looked very good.  Joki was fine after the first period.  Jitters/nerves are to be expected, but he settled in fine.

    Anisimov is slow but he played ok.  Toews looks like he is healthy and fit.

     

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