The 2021 NHL season is ready to begin as the Chicago Blackhawks will travel to the Ball Arena on Wednesday night to take on the Colorado Avalanche in a Central Division matchup. The Blackhawks struggled last season as they were sixth in the Central (24-25-7, 55 points) last season. The Avalanche finished tied for the top of the West Division (39-13-4, 82 points) as they were shifted last season. Colorado lost in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in six games.
These two franchises seem to have a bit of separation between them so it will be interesting to figure out how to bet on Opening Night of the regular season.
Gotta Take That Next Step in the RebuildThe Chicago Blackhawks hovered around .500 last season and a reason why they were in a lot of these games would be the play of right winger Patrick Kane. The team only has listed defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk on the injury report so they are entering this season healthy. Kane finished the 2020-21 season seventh in the league in points and third in assists as he had 66 points (15 goals, 51 assists) and showed that he is playing extremely well as he enters his 15th season. The offense overall finished scoring 161 goals, which was 16th of 31 teams last season. Kane has been one of the best players in the league for over a decade and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Goalie Kevin Lankinen was in the net primarily for the Chicago Blackhawks last season and is slated to be the starting goaltender this season as well. The Blackhawks ended up allowing 186 goals last season, which was 24th in the league. They have been hovering around average against opposing power plays as they killed 116-of-151 (76.82 percent) of them. If Chicago can step up defensively to begin the new season, it will do wonders for the team to get out of the basement in the standings.
One of the Best TeamsThe Colorado Avalanche were arguably the best offense in the NHL last season and one of the biggest reasons why is the play of center Nathan MacKinnon. It seems that they are completely healthy heading into the season opener so that will definitely help. The nine-year pro finished ninth in the league with points and is fifth in the league in assists as he is at 65 points (20 goals, 45 assists) during the 2021 season. MacKinnon will be the best passer on the ice and it can be the difference between a win and a loss while they are trying to start the season on the right foot in the Central Division.
Jonas Johansson is expected to be in the net for the Colorado Avalanche after Philipp Grubauer is now with the Seattle Kraken. Last season, he finished 5-1-1 in eight games (seven starts) and allowed 2.06 goals per game in limited action. Colorado, as a team, allowed 133 goals last season, which ended up being third in the league. They were above league average in power-play goals against (30) and power plays against (177), so this defense can be used as a huge strength. It will be interesting to see how the goalie change affects their entire defensive strategy this season.
- Colorado: 4-0 in their last 4 games playing on 3+ days rest
- Colorado: 38-15 in their last 53 home games
- Chicago: 4-9 in their last 13 road games
- Chicago: 1-5 in their last 6 games playing on 3+ days rest