The Chicago Blackhawks opened the season with two wins and high emotions in Chicago. Bryan Bickell retired and Eddie Olczyk made an appearance for game two. Hawks fans everywhere celebrated as the Chicago Blackhawks start the season with a 2-0 record.
Chicago Blackhawks Start Season With Two Wins
The first two games of the season resulted in two complete team victories. In game one, the Hawks pounded the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins 10-1. Then in game two, the Hawks outplayed the Columbus Blue Jackets to win 5-1. In these two games, the highlight was the play of the Hawk’s second line of Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz, and Ryan Hartman.
The line was unstoppable against the Penguins, and also in the opening minutes against the Blue Jackets. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they lost Nick Schmaltz for the night on his first shift. During a rush into the Columbus zone, defenseman Jack Johnson decided to deliver a hard check to Schmaltz the puck carrier. Johnson’s poor decision left Patrick Kane alone to skate in and deliver the games first goal. Schmaltz needed help off the ice, and would only return for a brief shift before ending his night. His status for the upcoming road trip is in jeopardy.
While Chicago benefitted from playing two teams who had played the night before, the Blackhawks played two solid games.
Bryan Bickell Retires
The Chicago Blackhawks selected Bickell in the second round of the 2004 draft. He played left wing for 384 of his 395 career games with the Chicago Blackhawks. 65 of his 66 career goals were with Chicago. None was bigger than the game-tying goal in game 6 against the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. That goal will forever be remembered as part of the historic “17 Seconds” of Stanley Cup lore.
Another special goal occurred last April. In Bickell’s final game in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes, coach Peters selected him to participate in the shootout. Bickell skated in and unleashed one of his wicked snappers and scored against the Philadelphia Flyers. Everyone in attendance went nuts as Bickell put an exclamation point on his last game in the NHL.
Bickell was diagnosed with M.S. in November 2016. After time off for treatment, he returned to play for the Hurricanes in February 2017. He battled hard to play hockey again but faced a difficult choice with his health problems. This week he retired as the Chicago Blackhawks opened their season. He signed a “one day contract” with the Hawks and was given “one more shift” with the team. For more on Bickell’s retirement check out this from the Chicago Tribune.
Eddie Olczyk Returns
To the delight of hockey fans all over the NHL, Eddie Olczyk was in attendance at the Blackhawks game last night. This was his first public appearance as he battles colon cancer. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and chanted: “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.” An emotional Olczyk did a live interview with Blackhawks play by play man Pat Foley. Check out the NBC Sports article by Paul Roumeliotis.
Chicago’s next test is Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto. Both teams have scored 15 goals, something has got to give in this collision.
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