DENVER – It was a match-up of opposites in the first of 82 regular season games for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
They were entering Ball Arena at the start of a major rebuild that has seen a number of players traded away while being replaced with youngsters or veterans on short-term deals. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are the only ones left from the team’s three Stanley Cup title teams in the 2010s.
Meanwhile, the host Avalanche are at the top of their game after winning the Stanley Cup title last summer and returning a team that could very well do the same thing this coming June.
Some might argue it’s the match-up of the team with the most expectations in the league against the team with the least, and it played out that way.
While the Blackhawks gave a solid effort to hold to stay in striking distance of Colorado, they weren’t able to catch up in a 4-2 defeat to start their 2022-2023 season. Jonathan Toews and Max Domi were able to get the Blackhawks on the board thanks to pretty feeds by teammates, but the Avalanche were a step ahead all evening.
Because of that, a trend continued for the Blackhawks on opening night, and it’s not a great one.
This marked the fourth-consecutive opening night that the team has lost, going back to when the franchise still had modest expectations with the remaining core of the championship teams.
Not since the opener in the 2018-2019 season – when they beat the Senators on the road 4-3 in overtime on October 4, 2018 – has the team started with a victory. Since then, it’s only been losses:
- 2019-2020 – vs Flyers – Lost 4-3 (Prague)
- 2021 – at Lightning – Lost 5-1
- 2021-2022 – at Avalanche – Lost 4-2
- 2022-2023 – at Avalanche – Lost 4-2
Not only has the team not won their opener since 2018, but they’ve yet to get a win in their first three games since that season. The Blackhawks started with three losses, one in overtime, in 2019-2020, then began the pandemic shortened with four-straight losses, with one in OT.
Last season, the Blackhawks went 0-7-2 in their first nine games before finally getting their first victory in their tenth contest.
The chance to change that for the Blackhawks begins on Thursday when they play their second game of the season against the Golden Knights in Las Vegas.