As the Chicago Blackhawks have kept going west to California, defenseman Jack Johnson has finally found some normalcy before the puck is dropped.
Johnson and the Blackhawks will play their third game this Saturday night when they meet the San Jose Sharks in the first of three matchups between the Western Conference clubs this season.
There was nothing normal about Johnson’s return to Colorado on Wednesday night — unless opening the season at the Stanley Cup-winning club you left in July and participating in that team’s pregame celebration constitutes normal.
In the on-ice ceremony in Denver, Johnson took a photo with the Avalanche as they prepared to raise the organization’s third championship banner. His visiting white No. 8 Blackhawks jersey stood out by itself in a smiling sea of ex-teammates wearing Avalanche burgundy and steel blue.
“Incredibly proud,” Johnson said of the banner that represented his first Cup title. “It’ll be up there for way after I’m gone. Someday maybe I can bring my grandkids or my kids if they don’t believe dad played. It’s also a cool way to turn the page and focus on this season and my new team.”
That was just the beginning of the Blackhawks’ strange opening week.
After losing the Colorado game 5-2, Chicago was back at it Thursday against Vegas — dropping that contest 1-0 in a 27-save effort by Golden Knights backstop Logan Thompson.
Saturday’s game will become one of the most dreaded scenarios in the NHL — three road games in four nights.
Captain Jonathan Toews and Max Domi found the net against Colorado. Goalie Petr Mrazek got the start in Denver and stopped 30 of 35 shots; Alex Stalock allowed the lone goal in the Vegas defeat on 37 shots.
On Friday, Chicago announced that it had activated forward Jason Dickinson and assigned forward Buddy Robinson to Rockford of the American Hockey League.
After dropping two games to Nashville in Prague, Czech Republic, San Jose hosted Carolina in its North American home opener Friday. The Sharks appeared to be headed to overtime and their first point, but the Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho redirected the game winner in off his left skate with 1:58 left for a 2-1 win.
In a rare NHL battle between brothers, San Jose’s Evgeny Svechnikov got the better of brother Andrei, who has become a dynamic right wing in his fifth season with the Hurricanes.
Playing in his first campaign with the Pacific Division club, Evgeny Svechnikov scored the lone goal in the first period by putting a shot from distance on Carolina goalie Antti Raanta. The puck was partially deflected at impact by defenseman Calvin de Haan and fooled the Finnish backstop.
“It was a very special moment for me and my brother and my mom and dad,” said Evgeny Svechnikov, who hugged his younger sibling at center ice during warmups. “We cherish every single time we’re on the ice together.”
Jaycob Megna and Erik Karlsson provided assists on the tally, while James Reimer made 33 saves. However, the Sharks lost for the third time in regulation in their first three games of the season.
Last season, San Jose went 2-0-1 against Chicago, with its lone setback being a 5-4 shootout defeat at home on April 14.
–Field Level Media