January 19th, 2013...The NHL is back. Finally.
The Blackhawks got off to a great start today against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, winning 5-2. They led 3-0 after one period and never looked back.
Patrick Kane got the Hawks on the board early in the first period during a 5-on-3 power play. You know what Coach Quenneville always says...the team that handles the 5-on-3's the best usually wins.
Kane had a great game, he seemed like he was in midseason form. I think you can attribute that to him being in game shape already, having played overseas during the lockout. His passing looked sharp, and he anticipated things really well in the offensive zone. He's one of the best passers in the league, and easily could have had a couple of assists if his passes had connected. That's not to say they were bad passes, because they weren't. It was just that the recipients couldn't always handle the passes. That happens in hockey.
Marian Hossa showed no ill effects from the hit from Raffi Torres in the playoffs last season. I'm not sure, if this season had started on time, if Marian would have been on the ice. The lockout obviously helped him get back on the ice at full strength, and he looked as good as he ever has. He was a factor on both ends of the ice, and even got on the scoreboard twice. He was named the #1 star of the game for his efforts. His durability and versatility will be key for the Hawks this season.
Historically, Jonathan Toews has been a slow starter, at least when it comes to scoring goals. Those who know the Hawks know that he doesn't have to score a single goal all season to have an impact on the ice. That being said, it's nice when your first line center and captain gets on the board. Today, his first goal of the season came in the second period off of a rebound chance created by a Kane quasi-breakaway. Good to see Captain Serious get going early.
When it comes to goaltending, most hockey experts are saying that Corey Crawford has a lot to prove this season, as he was shaky in the playoffs last season. He looked pretty good today, but at the same time he wasn't tested a ton. As for the two goals he gave up, he was completely screened on the first and never saw it, and on the second, there was a redirect right in front of the net. Not totally his fault.
It's hard to form an opinion on the team after one game, but it's totally OK to gloat tonight about beating the defending Stanley Cup champs on their home ice. Nevermind the fact that they were playing without Willie Mitchell and Anze Kopitar. Two points is two points, no matter who you play. Up next, is a big game in Phoenix tomorrow night.
Luckily for Raffi Torres, he's still suspended, so you won't see any payback tomorrow night.