Jeremy Colliton enters his first full season at the helm of the Blackhawks after taking over as the 38th head coach in franchise history on Nov. 6, 2018. Chicago finished the 2018-19 regular season with a 36-34-12 record overall. From Jan. 20 through the end of the season, Chicago went 20-10-3, a 107-point pace over the course of a full season.
A year ago, the Flyers took both games against the Blackhawks: a 4-0 win on Nov. 10 in Philadelphia in Colliton's second game in charge and a 3-1 victory on March 21 in Chicago with Erik Gustafsson scoring the lone Chicago goal. The two sides meet for the first of two October meetings in the 2019-20 season on Friday, with the Flyers visiting the United Center on Oct. 24 (TICKETS).
It is the second time the Blackhawks have opened the season abroad, falling in a shootout 4-3 before taking a 4-0 win over in a back-to-back series with the Florida Panthers in 2009 in Helsinki, Finland.
NEW AND IMPROVED
Of Chicago's 21-man opening night roster, eight are brand new to the Blackhawks. Goaltender Robin Lehner and forward Ryan Carpenter signed as free agents, while forwards Andrew Shaw, Zack Smith, Dominik Kubalik, Alexander Nylander, defensemen Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta were acquired via trade.
Seven of the eight are expected to dress in Friday's opener, with Colliton saying after morning skate that de Haan will not play as he recovers from a groin injury.
ON HOME SOIL
Friday will be a special moment in the careers of David Kampf and Dominik Kubalik, both born and raised in the Czech Republic. Kampf, in his third season with the Blackhawks, hails from Chomutov, two hours outside Prauge, while Kubalik appears set to make his NHL debut just 30 miles from his hometown of Pilsen.
The Blackhawks did not go through lines at morning skate in Prague, but Jeremy Colliton confirmed to the media afterwards that Corey Crawford would be Chicago's opening-night starter in goal.
Colliton also said Dennis Gilbert will get his second NHL start, as de Haan is not quite ready to play.
"He came a long way last year," Chicago's head coach said of Gilbert. "When he got his chance (to make his NHL debut), I thought he was very solid. I think it was St. Louis he played against and I thought he did well in that. To me, he opened some eyes as far as he's not that far away. He's had a good summer and he's been solid in Training Camp and he forced his way in. We feel very comfortable with him that he can give us solid minutes."