The Chicago Blackhawks opened their 2013-14 season with a bang — and a light show and a banner hanging. Their schedule has led to just two games over this first week, but there are certainly plenty of things to take from those two contests. So without further ado, here are some random musings on the Blackhawks’ first week.
1. Saad is back. For Brandon Saad, it doesn’t matter if he’s on the top line or the third: he’s picking up right where he left off last regular season. Forget about his postseason, when he looked a little wide-eyed and uncertain at times. Saad’s on-ice maturation has continued through this fall, and he already has two goals in as many games. Coach Joel Quenneville always talks about Saad’s ability to be a threat on the ice, and he was definitely that against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
[MORE: Crawford, Hawks fall to Lightning in shootout]
2. Penalty kill struggles. The Blackhawks were dominant on the penalty kill last season, as it made the lack of a strong power play tolerable. In the first two games, it’s become their Achilles’ heel, as they’ve allowed opponents four goals on seven power-play opportunities. Tampa Bay needed just 31 seconds to score on their lone man advantage on Saturday night. As Quenneville said, “it’s a tough start on the PK.” Did Michael Frolik make that much of a difference, or are the Blackhawks just succumbing to good opposing power plays? Either way, they need to shore things up quick on the kill.
3. The power play is (kind of, sort of) better. The Blackhawks are still seeing too many power-play opportunities go scoreless, but they do have two 5-on-4 goals in as many games. At least it looks much better. The Blackhawks are taking more shots on their advantages and getting around the net more. Hey, it’s a start.
[RELATED: Despite lack of shots, Lightning come out with a win]
4. Hossa is still, well, Hossa. And believe us, we mean this in the best way possible. Marian Hossa has suffered his major injuries and, with age 35 approaching in a few months, he’ll constantly have to monitor his health. But when he is healthy, he’s still tremendous with or without the puck. Hossa has a goal and an assist and is a plus-2 in his first two contests.
5. More good than bad. The Blackhawks have had some interesting moments in their first two games — hey, no doing things the easy way, right? But other than shoring things up in a few departments, they’re looking strong once again. Game 2 was a perfect example. The Blackhawks did just about everything right; in this case, they just got beat by a goaltender who did the proverbial headstand. The Blackhawks have more practice opportunities than games over the first few weeks. They’ll use it wisely.