Blackhawks

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks host defending champion Penguins

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Blackhawks' season opener against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Red Carpet.

1. Three-headed showdown: Crosby-Malkin-Letang vs. Toews-Kane-Keith

A big reason why many hockey fans have been waiting for a Chicago-Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Final this decade is because of the star power both teams have and the big markets they play in. It starts with these six guys, all of whom will likely go into the Hockey Hall of Fame when their careers are all said and done. 

Among them, they have a combination of six Conn Smythe Trophy's, four Hart Trophy's and three Stanley Cups each. It's an amazing collection of hardware. It makes you appreciate the matchup even more when you factor in that they only meet twice a year.

And if we're lucky enough, maybe we'll get some 3-on-3 overtime so they can show off their world-class talents in the open ice.

2. Alex DeBrincat's NHL debut.

He's dominated in the Ontario Hockey League, he shined at the Traverse City prospect tournament and he looked great in preseason. Now it's time to see what the 5-foot-7, 165-pound winger can do at the highest level when the games actually count.

There's no question he has the ability and will to succeed in the NHL, but there will still be a learning curve along the way. What better way to get your feet wet than against the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions?

3. How will Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp fare in their official Chicago returns?

A pair of fan-favorites are back in Chicago, and were ultimately brought in for the same reason: help get the Blackhawks back to the top of the mountain.

Saad will look to rekindle his magic with Jonathan Toews on the top line and set the tone for the rest of the lineup, while Sharp can still play top-six minutes (if needed), contribute on the power play and be a veteran presence in the process as they look to bridge the gap with their younger players.

The United Center roof might explode after Saad and Sharp are both welcomed back with video board tributes.