National Hockey League

Central Division Preview: Chicago Blackhawks

nhl1CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: TEAM LOOK-AHEAD
The Blackhawks will look to get back into the playoff picture in 2019-20 after failing to secure a postseason berth in consecutive campaigns for the first time since a five-season drought from 2002-03 to 2007-08.

To help them return to postseason contention, Chicago acquired a pair of two-time Stanley Cup champions. Forward Andrew Shaw won the Stanley Cup twice with Chicago (2013 & 2015) and returns to the franchise via trade after three seasons with the Canadiens. Defenseman Olli Maatta was acquired in a trade with the Penguins after helping that franchise win back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017.

In total, the Blackhawks boast eight players who have won multiple Stanley Cup championships, tied with the Penguins and Kings for the most among current rosters.

SEASON-OPENING STATS
* In 2018-19, the Blackhawks became the first team in NHL history to require overtime in each of their first five games to begin a season (3-0-2 from Oct. 4-13, 2018). It marked the third consecutive season in which a team has required extra time in each of their first three or more games to start a season (also VAN in 2016-17: 3-0-0 and OTT in 2017-18: 1-0-2) – it has happened only eight times overall.

* Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both opened 2018-19 with three-game goal streaks en route to 44 and 35-goal campaigns, respectively. Only Max Bentley (5 GP), Bobby Hull (4 GP), Martin Havlat (4 GP) and John Marks (4 GP) had longer goal streaks to start a season in Blackhawks history.

OFFENSIVE OUTLOOK
* After posting 44-66—110 in 2018-19, Patrick Kane can become just the third player in franchise history to post back-to-back 100-point seasons (Denis Savard: 1981-82—1982-83 & 1984-85—1985-86; Jeremy Roenick: 1991-92—1993-94).

* A two-time 100-point producer, Kane can also become the third Blackhawks player to record three or more 100-point seasons with the club (Savard: 5 & Roenick: 3).

* Jonathan Toews set career highs for goals (35), assists (46) and points (81) in 2018-19. He looks to post consecutive 80-point campaigns for the first time in his career – the only Blackhawks skaters with consecutive 80-point seasons over the past 30 years are Savard (1988-89—1989-90), Steve Larmer (1988-89—1990-91), Roenick (1990-91—1993-94) and Kane (2015-16—2016-17).

* Toews and Kane each have scored 20 or more goals in each of their first 12 NHL seasons, two of three active players to do so (also Alex Ovechkin: 14). Only 10 players in NHL history have scored at least 20 goals in each of their first 13 or more campaigns.

* After reaching a career high with 60 points in 2018-19, Erik Gustafsson (17-43—60 in 79 GP) can become just the third defenseman in franchise history to post consecutive 60-point campaigns. Doug Wilson (3x: 1981-82—1982-83; 1984-85—1985-86; 1988-89—1990-91) and Chris Chelios (1992-93—1993-94) are the only ones to do so.

THE FUTURE IS NOW
* At age 21, Alex DeBrincat put up a career-high 41 goals in 2018-19 to bring his two-season total to 69 tallies in 164 games. Only five players in Blackhawks history have reached 70 career goals in 170 games or fewer: Bill Mosienko (118 GP), Darryl Sutter (147 GP), Steve Larmer (149 GP), Max Bentley (151 GP) and Jeremy Roenick (166 GP).

* The Blackhawks selected defenseman Adam Boqvist with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Boqvist skated for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League in 2018-19 where he ranked second among all defensemen in goals (20) and sixth in points (60). Only three rookie defensemen in franchise history have posted 30 or more points in a season: Doug Crossman in 1981-82 (12-28—40 in 70 GP), Doug Wilson in 1977-78 (14-20—34 in 77 GP) and Brent Seabrook in 2005-06 (5-27—32 in 69 GP).

BETWEEN THE PIPES
* Robin Lehner is the ninth William Jennings Trophy winner to start the season with a new team the year after winning the award. Of the previous eight, three registered 30 or more wins in their first season with the new club: Frederik Andersen (33 wins w/ TOR in 2016-17), Dominik Hasek (41 wins w/ DET in 2001-02) and Roman Turek (42 wins w/ STL in 1999-00).

* Corey Crawford (244) is six wins shy of becoming the third goaltender to earn 250 career victories with the Blackhawks. The others: Tony Esposito (418) and Glenn Hall (276).

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
A look at how players have fared historically in their debut game/season with the franchise:

First game with Blackhawks. . .
SKATERS
Most goals: 2 – 10 times; last: Marian Hossa (Nov. 24, 2009)
Most assists: 3 – Denis Savard (Oct. 9, 1980)
Most points: 4 – Martin Havlat (Oct. 5, 2006)
 
DEFENSEMEN
Most goals: 2 – Ralph Nattrass (Dec. 8, 1946) and Phil Housley (Oct. 4, 2001)
Most assists: 2 – six times; last: Michal Rozsival (Jan. 20, 2013)
Most points: 3 – three times; last: Chris Chelios (Oct. 4, 1990)
 
GOALTENDERS
Most saves: 45 – Ed Belfour (Oct. 18, 1988)
Shutout: 3 goaltenders – last: Patrick Lalime (Feb. 7, 2007)

First season with Blackhawks. . .
SKATERS
Most goals: 43 – Rick Vaive (1987-88)
Most assists: 55 – Terry Ruskowski (1979—80)
Most points: 77 – Artemi Panarin (2015-16)
 
DEFENSEMEN
Most goals: 15 – Dale Tallon (1973-74) and Phil Housley (2001-02)
Most assists: 52 – Chris Chelios (1990-91)
Most points: 64 – Chris Chelios (1990-91)
 
GOALTENDERS
Most wins: 38 – Tony Esposito (1969-70)
Most Shutouts: 15 – Tony Esposito (1969-70)

— NHL Public Relations

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