The Chicago Blackhawks have officially wrapped up their season-opening five-game road trip, where they racked up 3,684 total air miles. They will finally have their home opener on Saturday against Vegas, which you can watch on NBC Sports Chicago.
The Blackhawks finished the trip with a 2-3-0 record and a goal differential of -2. Not terrible, all things considered.
Here's what we learned from the grueling trip:
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- Connor Bedard is That Guy. He's among the NHL leaders in scoring chances generated and yet he has only one goal. Don't be surprised if the floodgates open at some point.
- When Bedard's line is on the ice, the Blackhawks generate chances. When it's not, they struggle to do so. That might be a theme for most of the season.
- Goaltending has been the least of the team's worries. Petr Mrazek and Arvid Söderblom have been excellent as the 1-2 punch. The Blackhawks rank No. 8 in team save percentage at .930.
- Alex Vlasic started training camp on the third pairing, but he was moved to the top pairing with Seth Jones toward the end of it and he might've been their best defenseman on the trip. It's early, but you can see the growth in his game.
- The Blackhawks rank dead-last in faceoff win percentage at 35.9. Since the NHL started tracking faceoffs in 1997-98, the Tampa Bay Lightning from that year have the worst percentage in a single season at 44.1. Could the Blackhawks threaten that?
- The Blackhawks have had 22 power plays through five games. They've scored one goal and have allowed two. A negative goal differential isn't ideal. My prediction of the Blackhawks finishing in the top half of the power play this season doesn't look great right now, but I'm sticking with it because I still believe it should be far better than what they've shown.
- On the flip side, the Blackhawks are 12-for-13 on the penalty kill for a success rate of 92.3 percent, which is tied for ninth. Goaltending has had a lot to do with that, but it's been a bright spot so far.
- Lukas Reichel has not been on the ice for a 5-on-5 goal yet through five games. His line had some slow starts on the trip but they've gotten progressively better as the games have gone on.
- At times, Kevin Korchinski looks like a young 19-year-old rookie defenseman on the ice. Other times, he looks like he belongs. Overall, the trip was a success for him. I still don't believe he'll be in the NHL for the entire season, but let's see if his play proves otherwise.
- Corey Perry leads the Blackhawks with four points (one goal, three assists). He looks to be in midseason form.
- Tyler Johnson leads the Blackhawks with three goals; nobody else has more than one. He had 12 goals in 56 games last season. A good pace for him so far. His career-high is 29, which he accomplished twice in Tampa Bay.
- Andreas Athanasiou is averaging only 13:18 of ice time. It should probably be higher. Last season he was at 16:00. He's mostly been playing on the bottom-six, presumably to spread out the depth, and has been in and out of the power-play rotation. It might be time to put him with Reichel.
- Wyatt Kaiser had a really strong training camp and preseason. He hasn't been able to match that level in the regular season, but I don't have too much concern. His skating ability is high-end.