Toews, Kane Lead Blackhawks To Opening Night Victory

As the new year begins, the Blackhawks are facing significant questions for the first time in a decade. Their leadership, which has been so good over the past ten years, now has a bullseye on them after Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook disappointed last season.

On paper, fans could be thankful that the Hawks got to start the season against a team many picked to finish dead last in the league this year, the Ottawa Senators. Unfortunately, there’s a reason the games need to be played.

When the dust settled, the Blackhawks and their leaders opened the 2018-19 season with a bang in Ottawa on Thursday night.

Chicago started the game well. Alex DeBrincat scored the first goal of the 2018-19 regular season.

As was the case last year, the lead didn’t last very long. Zack Smith tied the game 2:07 later, taking advantage of sloppy play in the Hawks’ defensive end.

Four minutes later, Toews gave the Hawks the lead again with his first of the new year.

As was the case last year, the lead didn’t last very long. Maxime Lajoie tied the game with his first career NHL goal only 96 seconds after the Toews goal. Once again, sloppy play in the Hawks’ defensive end left Cam Ward on the losing end of a shot.

Another glaring issue last year was the Blackhawks’ special teams. Colin White gave Ottawa a 3-2 lead with a power play goal late in the first period. So… we haven’t addressed that as much as fans would hope.

At the end of 20 minutes, the box score was bloated. Chicago had an 18-10 shot advantage but trailed on the scoreboard.

The second period came and went without either team scoring a goal. Ward looked better, the Hawks were better in their defensive zone, but they couldn’t beat Craig Anderson to tie the game.

In the third period the line blender started working overtime and the Hawks found an answer for Anderson. It came from a familiar place, too. Kane set up Seabrook with a pretty pass and the veteran defenseman rifled home the tying goal.

The third period ended with both team picking up a point in the standings.

Chicago didn’t want to go home with only one point, and the leaders stepped up again.

Toews hit Kane with a lead pass and 88 knew what to do. He scored the game-winner only 38 seconds into overtime to send the fans in Ottawa home with a loss.

Toews had a dominant performance in what we all hope is a bounce-back season. He had one goal and the assist on Kane’s GWG to cap a plus-three night. He won 20 of 29 at the dot, blocked one shot and one takeaway. The Captain put four shots on net in 19:30.

Kane skated 23:49 to lead the Hawks’ forwards. He also led the team with six shots on net and matched Toews’ two points in the game.

Henri Jokiharju made his NHL debut and skated 19:13, the third-highest ice total among Hawks’ defensemen. He led the blue line group with three hits and put three shots on net.

Dominik Kahun also made his NHL debut. He was limited to 13:14 on the ice but put two shots on net and finished plus-two in the game.

Other than Toews, the Blackhawks struggled at the dot. Nick Schmaltz won only three of 14 faceoffs, Luke Johnson won one of six and Artem Anisimov won half of his 20 attempts.

Ward struggled in the first period when he allowed three goals but looked much better as the night went on. He was strong in the third period and the offense rewarded him with a victory. He stopped 22 of 25 on the night.

Overall, it’s good to get a win in the books. The Hawks improved as the night went on, but there’s a lot to work on going forward. But if the core can stand up the way they did on Thursday night throughout this season, Chicago will compete.

62 thoughts on “Toews, Kane Lead Blackhawks To Opening Night Victory

  1. Thought the rookies all showed they belong there. Q pretty impressed with Jokiharju, i thought he looked comfortable and poised, Overall a hot and cold team performance.
    Schmaltz won 3 of 13 faceoffs and Kampf, Kruger and Johnson won 2 of 12 combined.

  2. No offense Tab, but 10 of 20 at the dot for Anisimov is a solid night(50%). I wouldn’t consider that struggling. I would like to see him center the Kane line Saturday. It would be nice to begin some of those offensive zone possessions with the puck and I continue to think Schmaltz is destined for left wing sooner rather than later. Thanks for the detailed write up. Always nice to begin the year with two points, no matter the opponent.

  3. 8 goes against other teams top center/checking line center, like 15 did other yr when people picked on him.
    15 is 3rd line, goes against not other teams top line center/checking line center, is 50%.

    Theres the difference.

    Remember we added 11, 26, 80 at summer/deadline, when we were deep.
    We will do the same in a yr/yr and a half.
    Until then who gives a shit about faceoffs.
    Its about watching the FWs get real good over the season, no matter who we play.

  4. Niklas Nordgren- promoted to top Fin League… 6 shots and GWG… 2018 Draft – looking really good… Wise/Kurashev/Nordgren- all have a shot of NHL – someday soon

  5. Please STOP that stupid delayed entry on the power play. It’s going to cost us more grief than reward.

  6. @Morrison Toews also goes against the other team’s top line center, more than #8 does, but he doesn’t get bullied on the dot like #8 does. Winning faceoffs IS important. The second line was a joke tonight, couldn’t keep possession at all (of course it didn’t help that Kane kept losing the puck, but still).

    A much needed win. Great game from the Captain.

  7. Sven if Schmaltz is destined to be a winger because of faceoffs, your saying Mcdavid, Mackinnon are destined to be wingers too because their fo are numbers no different. I am more concerned with him not shooting and not taking a hit to help the team sometimes. Toews can take your important fos and if Schmaltz can show a little improvement as he ages then that is gravy.

  8. Sure.
    I donot know every teams 1st line center and checking line center faceoff %s.
    I would imagine could be as many checking line centers as 1st line centers.
    Not sure on that, but usually their the two best on every team and depends on coach matchups to.

    So except for teams that only the 1st center is good, 8 goes up against way harder centers then 15 does, just like 15 did those couple yrs.

  9. Not disagree with you in any way, just how I look at faceoffs.
    Sure there important, but I donot think they mean shit when were not deep.
    In a yr, I want better faceoff as a team, whoever is good.
    We need another one of those kind of guys like we got on those yrs.

  10. Ian, if Schmaltz puts up 100 points.. he can play wherever he wants. I stand by my previous comments on faceoffs and their importance.

    In another unrelated topic… Anyone see Brandon Saad?

  11. Reg totally agree they need a fresh approach to the power play-Broken record.

    Positives were Toews and I like the game Johnson plays-(he hits like a 220 pounder), but
    again the defense is really bad-only one game but it could be a long year back there. Ottawa is bad! For the people complaining about the drafting of more D-men-they need the help there.

    I’m hoping they are a quicker team this year-but Kruger, AA and Kunitz can’t play quickly enough in this fast paced NHL. And 20 seems to have lost a step?

  12. Hawks stuck with it and were rewarded in the end

    Toews showing that the way he looked in pre-season was no fluke – he was great

    2nd line sucked – Kane was more dangerous with Johnson and Kruger than Schmaltz and Saad – hopefully that’s not a pattern

    Schmaltz and Saad both need more ‘want to’ in their games – it’s a problem

    Joki had a couple of oopsies but not bad for a 19 year old

    Rutta struggled IMO and to reference my debate with ER in last blog I would be fine with Hayden in for Kunitz who had no impact on the game

    Ward was good all game long – that first period was not on him

    Keith had his moments but not enough good ones for him IMO

  13. @Ian, McDavid and the like can afford to win even 10% percent of his faceoffs. When Schmaltz starts putting up McDavid’s numbers and points, only then the poor faceoffs would be irrelevant.

    As things stand, I don’t understand what’s he doing at the center. Kane is only good when he has the puck and if Schmaltz can’t win the puck for him, it makes their line a lot less effective.

  14. Schmaltz – continues the trend of not shooting when he needs to.
    Saad – Go to the net. Hard. With the puck. Or without the puck.
    Defensive positioning and decision making – Whaaaaat?

    With that said, they all count. It was a good win in that respect. The boys have to clean up the defense and the effort on battles. They weren’t terrible, but errors again led to goals. As a fan I will take the win, though, any time.

    Go Blackhawks!

  15. I like Jokiharju but he made some mistakes that they didn’t capitalize on whereas a good team would have. It will be more interesting to see how he does vs Leafs. I just want to see him developed properly.

    I did see Saad at least once. He came steaming down the left side, whiffed on a shot attempt, then lost his balance and got creamed. Ugly.

    Gus is a beauty. About 8 minutes in he gives up an odd man rush. Next shift, same same. Nothing ever phases his commitment to get up the ice.

    Nice game by Jonny. Thought Ruutta was okay too, and I am optimistic that he will get back on track this year.

  16. It’s good to get the season started after what seemed like an off season that went on forever. It’s even better to start it off with a win even though the opponent is not a good team and the Hawks didn’t play very well in the d-zone.

    There were certainly some positive takeaways, starting with the Captain who looked a lot more like “old Toews” than the one of recent vintage. If that’s the level of play we can expect from Toews this season – that is HUGE.

    I thought Joki acquitted himself well. He looked more comfortable than the last couple preseason games.

    Ward let in a stinker on their 3rd goal but played pretty well after that.

    There were plenty of negative takeaways too. The play in the d-zone was bad. It was marginally better later in the game but for the most part it was a disaster waiting to happen. Poor passing exacerbated what was essentially a Chinese fire drill with Hawks players getting either outmuscled or beaten to pucks and the d-zone coverage by the forwards was terrible (Kane – I’m looking at you). Passing was poor all over the ice with the pass either being whiffed, short armed or off the mark and on the rare occasion when the pass hit the target it was rarely received cleanly.

    Too bad the Hawks only get to play Ottawa twice. The Blues got blitzed 5-1 tonight so they will be loaded for bear on Saturday … hey … speaking of bears – I wonder if we could sign Kallil Mack to play against the Blues … just a thought.

  17. Looks like it took two yrs, but Tazer new/different work routine is starting to pay off.
    He made the adjustments to get faster and keep pace with the younger fast player coming into the league.
    Be just in time to be a wicked two way player by the time were deep again.

    Q got the lines adjusted, is what got us tied. People worry to much about line blender. 4wd on the fly.

  18. The Bread Man with the game winner for Columbus. Our guy Saad in need of a talk from Orval Tessier.

    Saad will make the trade deadline interesting. Teams will bid for his grit, Stanley Cup experience and upside. He will be this years Evander Kane.

  19. The point is faceoffs alone don’t decide if your a good centerman, they are just a part of it, your statements are backing that up, not disputing it.

  20. @Ian, What makes a good centerman? Centers are ideally strong, good at possession, have a good vision and playmaking ability, good at the dot, and ideally are good defensively.

    Of all those things, Schmaltz has just vision and playmaking ability. He is neither particularly good defensively nor he’s tough nor good at getting the puck. He doesn’t have the size to win many board battles, so it’s problematic for him to win the puck after losing it at the dot. And without the puck, Kane is pretty much useless. Playing Schmaltz at the center forces us to play a powerul forward at the left wing to balance them out. And we don’t have a good powerful forward who’s fast enough to play there (unless Saad bounces back).

  21. I have to disagree, Schmaltz is very responsible defensicely as a couple of instances he stopped good scoring chances last night by coming back and doing so. He is one of the bsst takeaway players the game to boot. His speed through centre hce whuch is a very big asset for centers and is the reason they put him with Kane, to give him room on the wing. That was what happened in playoffs, twams clogged the wings and shutdown hus line.
    My point was deducing he xan’t be a center from him taking a dozen or so faceoffs a game is silky Going 3 and 9 tonight, he went 7 and 5 last preseason game only center above 50% i believe, may go something like 5 and 7 next game. It’s making a mountain out of a couple of faceoffs one way or the other at unimportan5 tines of the game. Usually there is berween 70 and 80 faceoffs a gane, so his numbers are not all that alarming.

  22. Jordy I noticed that same play by Saad..really really Baad. Baad was so terrible. He is weak on his skates, looks disinterested, doesn’t screen the goalie properly (just stands there) he basically neuters any line that he in on. The Kane line was pathetic last night. Toews played fantastic and that line was dominate. The defense was a little shaky at times but didn’t break. I thought most players played well with exception of Schmaltz and Baad.

  23. At some points in this game, they looked terrible. Toews and his line however, were good all game. Ward let in the softie on the Power Play, but looked pretty good the last two periods.

  24. Hopefully Saad regains some of his edge-hunger and legs-
    although this team has a few needs a good power forward (like a Stone, Simmonds, Benn etc.) would give this team a better chance to win and make Kane happier and more productive and Schamltz play taller.
    It’s not easy drafting and developing the ‘right’ one these days.
    Just thinking about Benn, Schmaltz and Kane line. Oh to dream.

  25. THIS is goin to be a long year of growing pains! $40M in 5 players? 10 players making less than $1M per year? The price of winning cups! BTW- where was John Hayden?
    And I agree- STOP that idiot drop pass on the PP- or learn how to do it without getting burnt!

  26. I was out of the room for a bit, but I thought I heard Eddie calling out Schmaltz for flipping the puck away rather than taking the hit to try and hold it. Did I get that right?

  27. Schmaltz has some very good points to his game – speed, vision, passing, backchecking and takeaways, but there are some glaring deficiencies too – faceoffs, deferring to pass when the shot is available, and most importantly is avoiding physical play. The play Jordyhawk is referring to is an example where he essentially gave the puck away to avoid getting hit. Maybe he’s still afraid of getting concussed again but he can’t play scared like that and expect to be a big time top-6 player and get paid like one.

  28. Jordy had the TSN feed but did see a couple of examples of that and not shooting–he needs a Jamie Benn type winger to play less fearful. (I know they don’r grow on trees)

  29. An ok win. Ward played very good overall. Toews line was fun to watch. Schmaltz, saad and Kane often looked sloppy to the point of a beer league line with the turnovers. Anisimov line was solid. 4th line will take some time, Martinsen was noticeable all night long.
    Let’s see them against Toronto.

  30. Can we stop using the McDavid and MacKinnon rationale when we talk about how pitiful Schmaltz is at taking draws. You don’t move those two guys because they are significantly better players than Schmaltz. Schmaltz is a winger until he can win draws. Plain and simple. He is atrocious and hasn’t improved at all, which is mind-boggling.

  31. Mox he needs to improve on faceoffs agreed but i feel the same as you do on comparing, about saying if he won what basically comes down to 2 or 3 more faceoffs in the offensuve zone at non critical points if the game makes you a good center. Put Kampf there instead of Saad on wing and let him take faceoffs on his side of the ice would do that. The thing is Saad has most upside, its one game they will be productive.

  32. I loved the first line; liked the third; second was in Q terms ‘ok’; fourth was fine – Martinsen didn’t show enough to keep his spot over Hayden.

    On D it was a rough night. Keith will be fine, Joker was good considering. Seabs was ok. Rutta was the worst of the night. I can’t say I like anything about his game..

  33. Come on people it was the first game of the year and they won. They played 60 plus minutes without coasting something we saw very little of last year. Give me that effort every game and they should do ok this year.

  34. Saad started the yr like he finished last year, as a 3rd liner until proves otherwise.

    With the way Krugs and Kane played why not center Krugs between Schmaltz and Kane on 2nd line and have Anisimov center Saad and Kunitz on the 3rd. That would be a very formidable 3rd line once they get going.

  35. I have no problem and think its wise to avoid going balls out, like 8 did the first 5-10 games last yr and got hit in the head twice.
    Its not worth it.
    He can take her easy getting into it like that.
    Not the whole 82 games, but be smart.
    Just because he got cheap shoted those first 10 games is good reason to wait to engage this yr, until father in.

  36. Fellows, stop the dreaming. Have any of you seen the highlights of the Pen. /Cap game?
    The Hawks are not ready yet for the Caps, Pens, Leafs, Bruins, or most of the Western teams. Ward kept them in the game after the first period. There were again too many breakaways, it looked like an average college game. It was a win but against the bottom of the barrio and it took OT.

  37. We win this yr no matter what.
    Make playoffs going 45-35 or
    get another high end player
    Going to be deep again.
    Right now its about the FW taking to another level this yr.

  38. Toot – we’ll definitely have a better feel for this team after the weekend games vs STL and TOR but I remain cautiously optimistic that overall they’ll be a bit better than most expect

  39. I look at these 2 games and hope the compete level is there getting 1 0r no points and playing hard could be better than 2 or 3 points and not being very consistent.

  40. Wrap- did you see the athletic piece with Lazerus and Powers going through player over/unders. They were over on most of the lines…but yet still pessimistic on the team overall.

    Kane- 87.5 points
    Schmaltz-62.5 points
    Jokiharju-17.5 points
    Debrincat- 27.5 goals

    30/1 to win central
    20/1 to win west
    40/1 to win cup

    Both thought Schmaltz would be over 62. If Schmaltz increases by 10 that’s a pretty good omen and all the more reason to sign him long term. They also think Kane goes over 87 points. Those 2 right there mean an increase in 20 points. A 20 goal increase would have put them 12th overall in goals last year.

    This team will be ok offensively. If defense can get shored up with a 2012 Oduya type acquisition things start looking better. Maybe getting Murphy back is that acquisition. His sf% was great among defenseman.

  41. Now to debunk the importance of SF% or corsi.

    Last year the Caps had 7 of 22 regular players over 50% shots for.

    The Hawks had 21 of 26 regular players over 50%.

  42. Ernie i think that goes to when your losing you tend to be generaing shots to catch up and if ahead alot you tend to lay back and defend to limit scoring chances but not necessarily amount of shots. Thats what they say about corsi its not a cut dried stat.

  43. Ernie and Ian – plus as we all know the Hawks generated most of their shots from the perimeter (with no screen) so there’s that

    If Toews is gonna play this way all year and the 2nd line picks it up and Crow comes back in form and someone on the D solidifies things (Murphy might) a playoff spot is within reach

    All those things going right is also not unrealistic – that’s where my hope lies

  44. Ian, that’s the thing. Even though we want to win and go 45-35 or better. Its porb better for the team roster/retool-reload to play good/be good and not get the points so we get another high end player. As much as we want to win now/this 82 games.
    Its tuff to think that way.

    Maybe, without Crow, go 20-20 or 15-25, but then do really goo in the 2nd 40. Its just tuff to think that way.

    Id like the FWs to emerge and be a really good 4 lines. The D is not deep now.

  45. Thats it Mo you don’t want to be in spot where losing affects the ability to want to win every night like last season and be in playoff hunt to have a reason to compete. That way your young players get better and not poisoned.
    Wrap exactly shots no help if odds of going in are nil, need to be scoring chances. Forsling as well as Murphy hopefully can help too.
    Noticed that Hillman and Gilbert were both healthy scratches last night for Icehogs, didn’t see anything on injuries anyways.

  46. The Caps were an outlier. The Lightning and Knights both looked more like the Hawks as far as players and a positive sf%. We reference advanced stats all the time, but the importance of shot volume seems like the value of a faceoff. I mean, theoretically both would mean you’re team is doing well. More faceoffs more possession. More shots more goals.

    Caps- 50.4 13th
    Knights- 48.9 22nd
    Lightning-48.2 27th
    Jets- 52.4 5th
    Hawks- 49.3 20th
    Hurricanes- 54.1 1st
    Avalanche- 44.2 31st
    Devils-47.0 30th
    Predators-53.3 2nd

    So the difference between 2nd and 30th is 6 possessions for every 100. That seems pretty insignificant.

  47. You really go to know that, and teams style, and sometimes you simply outplay the other team by a lot like the OTT game 41-25 but the score is 2-3 because they score 2 goals after out 2nd and then 1st line have really good shifts/WTF.

  48. Thats the thing with analytics Mo, you have to break it right down. One or multiple goal leads or deficits or tied. Against top lines or bottom lines, your line or D mate , what period. Shots vs scoring chances, o zone % starts vs d zone% starts etc. etc. Corsi really is helpful to teams when broken down situationally though.

  49. One thing that absolutely hamstrung the team last year. Giving up a lead.

    A guy that would fit the mold of a 2012/2013 Oduya type acquisition was injured the other night. Travis Hamonic got into a fight with Erik Gudbranson. Gudbranson was penalized for checking a player that didn’t have the puck, from behind. Hamonic fought after Gudbranson served the penalty. Went down holding his face…then returned later in the game. Announced later he’ll miss weeks due to facial fractures. A tough dude right there.

  50. That brings me back to, having to get two like 81 and 4.
    Theres only one Hoss in NHL history and Hammer is one tuff meatball.
    We do need to
    add two players of that type to get back, where we were.

  51. Ernie would’ve rea?ly liked to be able to see Hamonic on the Hawks blueline, saw that too, the team needs that kinda player.

  52. I expect Blows to match Ryan Oreilly against Toews. He was best faceoff man in league last year and he is always a tough matchup for Jonny. It will be a real good test for the captain tonight.

  53. Thats where getting a Podkolzin in next draft could help as a Hossa replacenent. Craig Button high on him says he has all the tools needed to be a complete forward in NHL.

  54. There might not be another Hoss in the league for 50 yrs.
    So we should just get a couple/few little Hosses.

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