The Chicago Blackhawks begin their 84th NHL regular season campaign and defense of the organization’s 4th Stanley Cup championship tonight at 9pm (central) at the Pepsi Center in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche. The game will be televised nationwide by VERSUS.
With the turnover and cap-crunch all having been well-documented since the Hawks hoisted the Cup back on June 9th, all that’s left is to do is wait and see how the newcomers fit, and who picks up the slack.
Tonight is no more important to any Blackhawk than it is to Marty Turco.
Turco, 35, had a so-so preseason and his teammates have struggled to adjust to Turco’s eagerness to play the puck. With Antti Niemi, Cristobal Huet and even Nikolai Khabibulin, the defense was solely responsible for retrieving the puck, clearing the zone and quarterbacking the offense. Turco likes to audible and call plays himself. The Hawks offense hasn’t been built that way and it will take time to find a happy medium.
Chicago should win this game easily. Craig Anderson led the Avs with a phenomenal run last October and November, but he was a lot less his super-human self in the second half. With the exception of Marian Hossa, the Hawk veterans mostly coasted through the preseason in cruise control and should be ready to hammer the gas tonight in Denver.
With all the talk of who the Blackhawks lost and the “damage” done to the 2010 Champs roster, veterans like Hossa, Sharp, Keith, Seabrook, Kane and captain Jonathan Toews will be looking to make a statement.
Marty Turco too can address Blackhawk fans and the rest of the league tonight himself. Something along the lines of “Niemi Who?”
And he’d better make that kind of a statement, because waiting around the corner Saturday night for the Hawks’ home opener and Stanley Cup banner unveiling are the Detroit Red Wings. A night of celebration and raising the banner in the faces of the hated Red Wings may sound poetic to some, but once the wheels on the pomp and circumstance hault, Saturday night has all the makings of a Red Wings express reminder that while Chicago’s celebration may only be four months old, a whole new season has arrived..
If Turco struggles tonight and the Wings emerge victorious Saturday, the UC will be uproarious, but not in a good way. Gloom and doom will take flight and Turco will feel the heat. Continue reading »