The Chicago Blackhawks started their preseason on a high note as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Tuesday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. As most of the veteran players sat out, it was a good opportunity to see what the newer guys are capable of providing for the team, and they didn’t fail to impress.
Former Buffalo Sabres defenseman, but newcomer to the Hawks, Cody Franson scored the first goal of the night, 10:47 into the first period. Franson is currently on a professional tryout agreement (PTO), which gives veteran players a chance to try out for a team. Despite getting guaranteed offers from other teams, Franson decided to stick with tryout agreement.
In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, he said, “Obviously Chicago is an amazing city, amazing place to play. I started out in Nashville. Coming in and playing in this atmosphere against this group of guys is a pretty special thing.”
I think it’ll be good not only for the Hawks, but Franson too as he utilizes his PTO agreement throughout the preseason to see if this is a good fit for him.
Also making an outstanding debut was goaltender Anton Forsberg, who signed a two-year contract with the Hawks. He ended the night with 38 saves, 14 of which happened in the first period alone. Forsberg hopes to secure the backup goaltender position, but is competing against former Islanders goalie Jean-François Bérubé, who has 11 more NHL games experience than Forsberg.
Coach Joel Quenneville sounded positive about Forsberg performance.
“A great beginning.” Quennevile said. “Organizationally, it was nice to see him battle through a lot of traffic and action around his net.”
Forsberg may become one of the many successful backup goaltenders that the Hawks have acquired over the years. While he only played in nine games for the Blue Jackets last season, some people may be skeptical of his experience. But, neither did Ray Emery or Anti Raanta have any NHL game experience prior to joining the Hawks, and that didn’t prove to be an issue.
Having one goal and one assist, forward Nick Schmaltz brought his A-game to Columbus as he had a nice shot on a breakaway from the right circle, beating out Blue Jacket’s goalie, Joonas Korpisalo with 12:56 in the second period. His speed and skill have impressed many people throughout training camp, and some believe that he should join the high scoring second line along with fan favorite, Patrick Kane. The only obstacle that I feel like he needs to overcome is winning faceoffs as Schmaltz had a 30.9 win percentage last season. Yet again, he’s still a younger guy who has a ton of room for improvement, and with more experience, will no doubt bring that win-percentage up dramatically.
The Blackhawks are back at the United Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday as they face off against one of their oldest rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, which should surely be an interesting matchup.