He Is back! Brandon Saad scored a hat trick to lead his tea, to a 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, albeit in a pre-season game. The right winger looked comfortable on a line with Richard Panik and David Kampf (filling in for Jonathan Toews, who wasn’t feeling well).
All eyes were on Alex DeBrincat, the prized Blackhawks prospect, who made his pro debut. He did not look out of place at all. He was playing left wing on the second line with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. The trio had the puck on their sticks throughout the game, creating slick tape to tape passes and generating scoring chances. All three players have similar statures in height, similar skill levels and blazing speed. If this line already looks good from only the first game, imagine what could be by mid-season. DeBrincat even scored a beautiful goal that was perfectly set up by Panik. DeBrincat scored with a slick wrist shot past Mrazek. He finished with 1 goal, 4 shots on goal and 13:55 minutes of ice time. Not too shabby!
The third line of Patrick Sharp, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Hartman was also impressive. They had puck possession in the offensive zone almost every shift and generated the most scoring chances, in which one of them led to a Hartman goal to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. Not only does this line possess offence, but it also possesses two-way play taking care of their defensive zone, backchecking and then going on the attack.
Brent Seabrook also scored a power play goal by letting go a slap shot from the point. The defence looked poised and took care of the defensive zone. Connor Murphy, acquired from Arizona for Niklas Hjalmarsson, looked very impressive playing alongside Duncan Keith. He played 21:02, some of that on the power play. He not only showed true shutdown defending, but he also showed that he’s got puck-moving ability and a hard shot. If Murphy can put this all together, he can surely become a solid two-way defenseman for the Blackhawks. Oh, and he’s only 24 years old!
Corey Crawford played the full game and was already showing his mid-season form. All in all, this has been a very impressive Blackhawks training camp, and with young players battling for positions on the team, this could get even more positive for the long term. This is because even if some players don’t make the initial Opening Night roster, they could be the first ones recalled to the first team in case of injuries or roster shakeup during the season.
This team has a very bright future ahead of them. Youth is starting to take over the team and, eventually, will lead it to hopefully what will be multiple Stanley Cups ahead. Schmaltz, DeBrincat, Forsling, it’s your time to shine now!