The Chicago Blackhawks were hoping for a good start after an eventful season, but they had other ideas as the Colorado Avalanche took a 4-2 win in Denver on Wednesday night.
Bowen Byram, who the Blackhawks passed in the 2019 NHL Draft as they chose center Kirby Dach in the third overall pick, had one goal and an assist in his first game in the huis NHL. Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri matched him with a goal and an assist in the win.
Without further saying goodbye, here are the three stars the Blackhawks lost to Colorado on the first night.
Third Star: Riley Stillman
A lot of eyes will be on Stillman this season as he tries to take on the fifth defensive role with the Blackhawks, and he ended with a two block shot, a goal shot and four hits in a losing effort on opening night.
Avalanche stepped up the physicality as the game progressed, possibly trying to thwart the Blackhawks’ attempts to get back into the game, and Stillman was a player who seemed successful in such conditions, often weighing in and messing up. along with several Colorado players throughout the competition.
For a Blackhawks team that wasn’t exactly famous for his bravery and physicality last season, Stillman could distinguish himself as a well acquitted player in this division as long as he decided when and where to score his hits.
Second Star: Henrik Borgstrom
The Blackhawks, which were the highlight of a trade with the Florida Panthers last season, have high hopes for Borgstrom and had a solid night in the Chicago office, winning four of their eight draws, blocking two shots and taking the first. Help a Blackhawks uniform in the defeat.
Borgstrom also had a good time in the game with Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel, and the Blackhawks could look at him as a center that could potentially slide with any of those flanks. Hagel in particular is an exciting prospect to look at as a line mate for Borgstrom, and if they can develop chemistry, the Blackhawks will have a really strong third line, freeing Tyler Johnson to move into different parts of the roster.
First Star: Kirby Dach
The 2021-22 season will be a key one for Dach as the Blackhawks try to prove they’re worthy of the number three picks they spent on him in 2019.
In the first game, focusing on how he looked in Byram form compared to the #4 pick in that draft, Dach set the guns ablaze, missing five more shots and two more shots for the team.
Dach was a limited factor in the starting rim, winning three of five draws, but more importantly used on all areas of the ice, playing well-balanced, short-handed and power play.
This versatility will be key for Dach as he continues to evolve, and if he can continue to record key minutes in a variety of roles, he’ll be a crucial part of this team’s progress.