Yep, it’s back. And as Andrew Shaw asked two springs ago when he came back from injury, “miss me?”
We’re talking Five Things, our regular staple after every regular-season game. We’ll skip over the normal lead-in with this story — there was plenty of pomp and circumstance during the banner-raising ceremony. So here they are, Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 season-opening loss to the New York Rangers.
1. The kid is all right. The kid we’re referring to is the forward the Blackhawks have dubbed “Bread Man.” Artemi Panarin looked good in his one preseason game and he looked good again on Wednesday night, when he scored his first career NHL goal. Coach Joel Quenneville talked of Panarin’s skill and puck-handling ability and once again liked the combination of the young Russian, Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. The Blackhawks might be onto something there, and Panarin is definitely off to a great start.
2. Defensive kinks. Yeah, they were a problem in the early going. Quenneville called Trevor van Riemsdyk, Trevor Daley — who were a pair — and David Rundblad “just OK.” That’s not high praise in Q-speak. But it sounds like help is on the way. Quenneville said Viktor Svedberg, who was reassigned to Rockford for cap purposes on Tuesday, will “likely” return for the weekend. It also sounds like the big Swede will be in the lineup this weekend. Once that happens, Quenneville said he’ll have, “a clearer indication of who’s going to play with who.”
3. Marian Hossa is still a marvel. There was a sequence in Wednesday’s game when Hossa was playing keep-away for seemingly an entire shift. It’s what he does best. OK, scoring goals is what he does best but his strength in holding the puck is a close second. Some day Hossa will show his age. He isn’t right now.
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
4. Ceremonies don’t translate into sparks. The Blackhawks have now lost two of the last three games that began with their banner-raising ceremony. So let’s just say they don’t get off to the best starts on these otherwise celebratory nights. Maybe it’s the emotions of the evening, but the Blackhawks did not have the necessary jump and attention to detail to start this one tonight.
5. Go Cubs. Those were Quenneville’s parting words at the end of his postgame press conference, and it’ll be the end of our story, too. Hey, you end on a positive, right?