There isn’t a single easy game in the NHL.
There will be plenty of nights where two combatants have far different payrolls. But if the team with the bigger salaries doesn’t show up, they’re likely to get a kick in their hockey pants.
The Blackhawks host the re-minted Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, who were torched on opening night by the Montreal Canadiens. The Jets (formerly the Atlanta Thrashers) finished 12th in the East last year. They made the playoffs only once during their 11-year existence in Georgia.
Overall, the Blackhawks October schedule features playoff-bubble teams or teams that missed the playoffs last year. The first few weeks of the season we should get an indication how focused the Blackhawks are against foes who are perceived to be weaker. Combine a determined 60-minute effort with the skill they possess and the Blackhawks can clean up this month.
The one true test "off the hop" comes on Saturday night when the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins hit the United Center.