Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 10-1 win over Penguins in season opener

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 10-1 win over Penguins in season opener

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 10-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Thursday's season opener:

1. Brandon Saad makes it rain

How's that for a return? Saad announced to Chicago that he's back by netting a hat trick for the second time in the last couple weeks, but this one actually counted.

He scored a pair of first-period goals at even strength, then found the back of the net in the third period to cap it off thanks to a terrific pass by Jonathan Toews, the United Center crowd of 21,705 showering the ice with hats. 

"The puck was finding me tonight," said Saad, who finished with a team-high five shots on goal. "I'll take it."

2. Patrick Kane in MVP form

Who needs Artemi Panarin? Seriously though, Kane put on an absolute clinic in his season debut, tying a career high with a four-point game (one goal and three assists).

His first two assists — a no-look pass and a spin-o-rama — will be on his highlight reel, and so will his goal, where he roofed a ridiculous backhander past Matt Murray, who made a relief appearance after former Blackhawks netminder Antti Niemi allowed four goals on 13 shots in the opening period.

"It's almost like it wasn't a real game," Kane said of the 10-1 rout. "It was amazing."

3. Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz shine ... and Blackhawks dodge a bullet

Schmaltz backed up all the preseason hype that surrounded him by scoring two goals and adding an assist in the win. He backchecked hard, he led the rush and buried his scoring chances. Kane went as far to say after the game that Schmaltz's speed through the middle of the ice reminds him of Connor McDavid.

Staying on the same line, Hartman had himself a career night as well, recording five points (one goal and four assists) in the victory.

That trio of Hartman, Schmaltz and Kane was simply dynamic.

"It was amazing watching the speed, whether it was Schmaltzy going through the middle of the ice, playmaking, patience in the offensive zone, be it off the rush, cross-ice passes, they were doing it all tonight," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "One of those nights where they were outstanding. All complemented one another, all hit open spaces and they all hit those little holes and were extremely dangerous. It was a great start for them."

There was a bit of scare at the end of the third period when Schmaltz left the Blackhawks' bench favoring his leg. Quenneville said after the game that Schmaltz is fine and that he will "likely" play Saturday, along with Tanner Kero, who suffered an injury in the win.

4. Patrick Sharp gets in on the action, too

Oh yeah, it was a nice welcome home for the Sharp Shooter as well. He scored the team's fifth goal to cap off the monstrous first period, which happened to be his 600th career NHL point.

He finished the game with seven shot attempts and logged 19:34 of ice time, which led all Blackhawks forwards.

5. Artem Anisimov's success at the dot

Getting away from all the scoring and looking deeper into the box score, something that flew under the radar was Anisimov's success at the faceoff circle. That was a huge concern for him last season, when he won only 45.1 percent of his draws. 

Consistency is his biggest issue, but he won 15 of 21 faceoffs (71.5 percent) in a third-line role to open the season. Great start.

Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season


Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season

Eddie Olczyk joins Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers to discuss what went wrong for the Blackhawks this season, and what changes could happen this summer to get the team back into the postseason.

Listen to the entire HawksTalk Podcast here:

Amazing news: Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free

Amazing news: Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free

Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free!

The beloved Blackhawks broadcaster provided an update on his health after a battle with cancer and had the best news possible.

His scan scheduled for early-April was moved up and the results brought good news:

"I'm proud to stand here before everybody and you [Pat Foley] — my partner and my friend — that all the cancer is gone," Olyczyk said. "We beat this thing, and I say 'we' because it has been a team effort. Not only from the great doctors, but from this organization, from Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough, Jay Blunk, Coach Q, hockey operations, these great trainers, our broadcasters, you partner for all the texts and visits daily, the National Hockey League, all my friends and my family: my brothers Ricky and Randy, my mom and dad, and of course, my four kids — Eddie, Tommy, Zandra and Nicky and my beautiful wife Diana. If it wasn't for them, there's no way I could've gotten through this.

"So I believe we all beat this and I'm so thankful for all the support and prayers. They worked. I'm proud to stand here before everybody and let them know that we beat this thing. I've had enough crying to last me a lifetime, partner, and I'm just so excited that I got that call on March 14th at 5:07 p.m. letting me know that my scans were clear. I've never heard a better phrase in my life.

"I'm now 10 days on with the rest of my life and that's the way I'm looking at it."