The opening week to the 2013-2014 season was an exciting one for the Chicago Blackhawks, and hinted at a lot of potential for the future.
Chicago’s first game of the season was a big one for Blackhawk fans as the latest championship banner was raised to the rafters of the United Center and the Stanley Cup made an appearance. The Blackhawks also had their annual “red-carpet” entrance as the players walked down a red carpet when arriving at the United Center.
On the ice, Chicago put up an impressive 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals. Even more impressive is the fact that the game set a cable television record as the most-watched season opener. According to NBC Sports Group, the game averaged 935,000 viewers, the most being 1.045 million watching at home. Those numbers are a record according to data was available since 1993.
The game also set some other high marks. It was the second-most watched game in NBCSN history. Over 942,000 minutes of coverage was viewed digitally though NBC Sports Live Extra. The ratings for the Hawks-Capitals game was up seven percent compaired to the 2011-2012 season opener between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Briuns, which was also the last time the season began in October.
Along with the banner ceremony, the game saw Conn Smythe winner, Patrick Kane net a goal along with fan-favorite Alexander Ovechkin. But perhaps the most excited player on the ice to score was Chicago’s Brandon Bollig, who, although having a Stanley Cup ring, netted his first NHL goal (the first goal of the game) in the first game of the season after winning the Stanley Cup. His celebration afterwards showed just how excited he was, and rightly so. Bollig has a lot of potential and has ample promise in Chicago.
Saturday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning started out with more of the same. Kane scored the opening goal in the second period and the Blackhawks would go into the third with a two goal lead. Although, they’d give up two in the third and eventually drop the game in the shootout.
“I was looking for the police when we left the locker room because I thought we’d get arrested for stealing,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “We stole two points.”
Despite the loss, Chicago can take a lot of positives away from the night. Kane is producing, which is key for the offensive talent Chicago has. Chicago has three points in their first two games of the season and are off to a good start in the points standings. They have also yet to face a devastating loss, and the longer it takes for that to happen, the higher the morale will be in the locker room on a nightly basis.
Chicago will face the St. Louis Blues in the upcoming week and will see tough competition in that game. St. Louis is primed for the season and ready to make a serious run at the Cup. They’re as hungry as Chicago was in 2010 which is dangerous, though Chicago now has winning-experience to bring to the table. The first of the Chicago-St. Louis tilts will be the start of an exciting battle for the rest of the season. Not to mention all the added fuel to the Blackhawks-Blues rivalry. Expect both teams to make this season exciting in the Western Conference.