The Chicago Blackhawks will try again for their first win of the season when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.
Chicago will play its home opener, albeit without any fans in attendance, after starting the season with a four-game road trip. All of those games ended in losses, with three coming in regulation time and one in overtime.
Meanwhile, Detroit will go on the road for the first time after playing four straight home games. The Red Wings posted a 2-2-0 record in those games, including a 3-2 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in their most recent contest.
The longtime rivals have not faced off as frequently since Detroit joined the Eastern Conference before the 2013-14 season. However, this season’s adjusted format means the teams will meet each other eight times in the regular season.
After Friday’s game, the Red Wings and Blackhawks will stay in Chicago for a rematch two days later.
Detroit captain Dylan Larkin sees the weekend series as a chance to take another step forward.
“I’ve liked our process every game, the way we’ve played with the puck, our confidence,” Larkin said. “Our goaltending has been great. I think starting the season 2-2 is huge for our confidence. The way we are playing is repeatable. Every game, we’ve gotten better and more comfortable with the puck. It was a great homestand.”
The Blackhawks, who won three Stanley Cup championships from 2010 to 2015, have pivoted toward a youth movement as core players such as Marian Hossa and Corey Crawford have retired. Captain Jonathan Toews remains out with an illness, and defenseman Brent Seabrook has yet to play this season as he recovers from hip and shoulder surgeries.
Young players such as Adam Boqvist (age 20), Philipp Kurashev (21), Ian Mitchell (22), Dylan Strome (23) and Alex DeBrincat (23) have received ample playing time as part of a developmental season under head coach Jeremy Colliton.
“We have no complaints how the young guys have played,” Colliton said. “Certainly, there’s going to be mistakes and we expect them to get better here as we go, but we have a lot of guys playing big roles, big minutes.
“(In our last game), it would’ve been nice to finish it off with a win. You’d feel a lot better about it. But those young guys are a big reason why we are going to get better as the year goes on. That’s got to be our focus every day.”
Detroit’s options in net include Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Greiss, each of whom have started two games. Bernier is 2-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage, while Greiss is 0-2-0 with a 2.59 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
Chicago has split time between three goaltenders as it looks for someone to emerge as a No. 1 option. Collin Delia has made two starts, going 0-2-0 with a 5.00 GAA and .863 save percentage. Malcolm Subban (0-1-0, 5.03 GAA, .848 save percentage) and Kevin Lankinen (0-0-1, 4.79 GAA, .833 save percentage) have made one start apiece.
–Field Level Media