It starts with the top line of Alex DeBrincat, Tyler Johnson and Patrick Kane, who’ve been together since the start of training camp and will take the United Center ice for the first time this evening. That group will also feature heavily on any Chicago power plays, with Jonathan Toews and Seth Jones occupying the other two spots.
Speaking of Jones, he’ll make his initial Blackhawks appearance in this one alongside free agent signing Jake McCabe, who missed much of last season with a knee injury. Calvin de Haan will be on the second pair with Caleb Jones, while former second-round pick Ian Mitchell will pair up with 2021 first-round pick Nolan Allan on the third pairing.
While addressing the media on Friday morning, de Haan revealed an injury he carried for much of last season:
Calvin de Haan said he was playing with a hairline fracture at the top of his left tibia. Said he trusted the doctors that he was still fine to play for the year. Claims it was easier to skate than to walk. #Blackhawks— Joe Brand (@Joe_Brand1) October 1, 2021
In net, Chicago fans will get their first glimpse of Marc-Andre Fleury, while Collin Delia is expected to be the backup. They’re expected to share the net this evening:
Jeremy Colliton said Marc-Andre Fleury will play the first half of the game tonight vs. St. Louis. Collin Delia will play the second half. #Blackhawks— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) October 1, 2021
Elsewhere, Alex Nylander returns after missing the entire 2021 season and will skate with Ryan Carpenter and Dylan Strome, with the latter in need of some positive performances to silence the rising chorus of critics against him.
The expected St. Louis lineup for this game features several key names but is not quite the Blues “A” group:
#stlblues projected lineup vs. Chicago— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 1, 2021
Let’s go Hawks!
DeBrincat — T. Johnson — Kane
Hagel — Toews — Riechel
Nylander — Carpenter — Strome
Pour — R. Johnson — Osipov
McCabe — S. Jones
C. Jones — de Haan
Mitchell — Allan
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago-Plus, NHL Network
STREAM: ESPN+ (out of market only)