The Blackhawks always know how to start off their season right, and Thursday night’s home opener was no exception. The United Center was filled with cheers as the Blackhawks reunited with fan favorite, Brandon Sadd, as well as embarrassing last year’s Stanley Cup Champion, the Pittsburgh Penguins, defeating them 10-1. This is highest scoring game for the Hawks since a 10-1 victory against Winnipeg in 1988.
The Penguins had lost in their season opener the night before in a 5-4 OT loss against the St. Louis Blues. Former Blackhawks goalie, Antti Niemi was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 13 shots, forcing backup goalie, Matt Murray to take over for the rest of the game. Nothing really changed Thursday night when Ryan Hartman scored the first goal six minutes into the first period. He ended the night with one goal, and four assists. Other key contributors were Richard Panik, Patrick Sharp, and Brent Seabrook who each scored a goal. Corey Crawford ended the night with 28 saves.
But if there was one player who totally “stole” the show, that would have to be Brandon Sadd. The 24-year-old, two-time Stanley Cup Champ who started his career in Chicago was traded to the Blue Jackets in 2015. Luckily, Stan Bowman could get him back with a blockbuster trade which resulted in parting ways with Left Winger, Artemi Panarin during the offseason. Sadd was able to score a hattrick in his first game back. He got a chance to talk about what it meant being a dominant player and how he worked hard to get where he is now. In an interview with Chicago Tribune, Sadd said “It’s all about the work, getting to the net, especially for my type of game. That's where I have success.” Last season especially, I think the Hawks were slacking on speed and physical aspect of the game, something they had when Sadd was on the team. Take the disastrous playoff series against the Predators. They were only able to score a combined 3 goals throughout the whole 4 game series. It was a new low for the Hawks, but after working hard in the offseason and getting some veteran players back, it’s as if nothing has changed for the Hawks.
In the games following the Hawks huge victory, they have been consistent, only losing 1 of the 3 games, which happened to be an OT loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Center Nick Schmaltz got injured in a game against the Blue Jackets, suffering from an upper body injury. No worries though, Coach Quenneville only expects him to miss at least two games, and with 82 games in a season, it’ll feel like he never left.
Currently, the Hawks (3-0-1) are second place in the Central Division, only a game behind the Blues. They play the Minnesota Wild (0-1-1) 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the United Center.