Blackhawks look to rock the Madhouse tonight in home opener
In just a few hours, the "feathered faithful" will fill the United Center to capacity, and the rafters will hopefully thunder to the chorus of "Chelsea Dagger", the Blackhawks' signature goal song.
There is no banner to raise to their own rafters this year, but the Blackhawks want to have a good home opener after ruining LA and Phoenix's.
Chicago will be kicking off their home games against one of their fiercest rivals, the St. Louis Blues. The Blues will be rolling into town on the back end of a road back-to-back after dispatching the Nashville Predators in a shootout on Monday night, 4-3. Prior to visiting Nashville, the Blues destroyed Detroit in their own home opener, 6-0.
That the Blues will be formidable again this season is no surprise; Coach Ken Hitchcock returns as the bench boss. Most of the team is familiar this year again as well, and are backed up again by last year's defending William M. Jennings Trophy tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott.
What has changed this year is that the Blues have discovered an offensive touch, led by rookie sensation Valdimir Tarasenko, who spent last season in the KHL and is playing his first season on North American ice. Tarasenko leads the Blues with five points (3G/2A) to open the season; he is converting at a 37.5% rate. YouTube is already full of his KHL goals and you can see his first 3 NHL goals there as well.
St. Louis has also opened their season with an impressive 71.4% PP success rate. While the Blackhawks tend to commit few penalties, they cannot give the Blues any opportunity to get on the PP, even though Chicago's PK is thus far 100%.
Halak and Elliott have also been stingy with goals, averaging 1.5 GAA so far. Corey Crawford will need to be exceptional in goal tonight.
After tonight's game, the Blackhawks head back on the road again for two games before welcoming the Red Wings next Sunday.
So far this season, the Blackhawks have looked pretty good. The Blues will be an excellent test, especially in front of the electrically-charged Madhouse on Madison on opening night.
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Time: 7:30 pm CST
Blackhawks record: 2-0-0; this is their first home game of the season
Blues record: 2-0-0
Special event: The Blackhawks will do a pre-game "red carpet walk" starting at 5pm CST (doors open 4:30 pm).
Tonight's promotional giveaway: Blackhawks team calendar
Current IR: Daniel Carcillo (lower body), Steve Montador (concussion)
Location: United Center, 1901 W. Madison, Chicago
Where to watch: CSN-Chicago
Where to listen: WGN 720 (phone app available)
Next 2 games: Thur 1/24 at Dallas; Sat 1/26 at Columbus