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4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT, October 4, 2018
Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, Ontario  Attendance: 15,858

Senators begin post-Karlsson era vs. Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks at Ottawa Senators

  1. The Blackhawks finished 33-39-10, putting them in last place in the Central, their first last-place finish since 2006-07. It was their first time missing the playoffs since 2007-08 -- despite that, their 22 playoff series since the 2004-05 lockout are tied for third most (Pittsburgh -- 29, San Jose -- 24).
  2. One year after falling in overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Senators finished 28-43-1; only the Sabres had a worse record in the NHL. It was their fewest wins in a full season since finishing 18-59-5 in 1995-96, their fourth season in the league.
  3. Since the 2010-11 season, Chicago is 9-2-1 against Ottawa, including a 4-1-1 record in Canada's capital. The Senators' last regulation home win over Chicago came on March 28, 2014.
  4. Alex DeBrincat led Chicago with 28 goals last season, becoming just the fifth rookie in franchise history to lead the team in goals. Among the other four, only Darryl Sutter (40 goals) in 1980-81 had more than him.
  5. In addition to losing Erik Karlsson to the Sharks, the Senators also lost Mike Hoffman and Derick Brassard, leaving them without three of their top six point-getters from last season. They return just 60.5 percent of their 2017-18 points this season, the fewest in the league.
  6. Craig Anderson had a stellar 2016-17, finishing with a 2.28 GAA, but jumped to a 3.32 GAA last season. The 1.04 increase was the second largest among goalies who played in at least 30% of team games each season, behind Thomas Greiss of the Islanders (+1.13).

Both teams will have a number of new faces in the lineup when the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Ottawa Senators in the season opener for both teams at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.

In other words, it should be a busy night for the program sellers.

Making their debuts for the Senators will be three former San Jose Sharks who were acquired in separate offseason trades. Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker are scheduled to skate on the Ottawa's third line while Dylan DeMelo is slated to work on the third blue-line pairing alongside Max Lajoie, a 20-year old who will be playing his first NHL game.

Tierney was part of the deal in which Ottawa sent star defenseman and two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson to San Jose.

Lajoie, who has just one season of pro experience, was the surprise of camp.

"He's shown so much poise, and so much calm in the face of all kinds of pressure," Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said of Lajoie, the Senators' fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft. "He went through the American Hockey League. It's not like a junior kid that's just coming up."

Boedker is a former first-rounder who was acquired in a deal for Mike Hoffman, who had 107 goals in 342 games for Ottawa. Boedker has eight goals in 11 career games versus the Senators, but only scored 25 times in the past two seasons with San Jose.

The rebuilding Senators will need him to pick up some of the slack on offense, particularly with the loss of Karlsson, who tied for the team lead with 62 points last season.

"You're always a little nervous for the first game," said Boedker, "but i think the excitement of a new season starting, a new opportunity that lay ahead, that kind of takes over and wipes out the nervousness. It's a fresh start for all of us in here, so I think we've all got to play with a little chip on our shoulder and prove a lot of people wrong."

Meanwhile, three Blackhawks will be making their NHL debuts in Ottawa: defenseman Henri Jokiharju, center Luke Johnson and winger Dominik Kahun.

Jakiharju, a first-round pick in 2017, is tentatively scheduled to skate alongside Duncan Keith on the first pairing. The undrafted Kahun is penciled in on the right side of first-line center Jonathan Toews and Johnson is working the middle on the fourth line.

"I've waited all by childhood to play in the NHL ... it's going to be fun," Jakiharju told the Blackhawks website. "It's going to be a huge game, but I'm not going to make it any bigger than what it's going to be, and try not to think about it too much. It's one game for me. Best time of my life right now, so I'm just going to enjoy it."

Johnson echoed similar sentiments on the website.

"I've worked so hard my whole life to get here and finally it's here," he said. "It's definitely exciting and I'm a little nervous, but I think I'm more excited than nervous. I don't want to just play a few games. I want to stick around and make a career out of it. I think I've just got to do what I do best and play my game and work."

Also making their Chicago debuts will be veterans Chris Kunitz, who played for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, and Brandon Manning, who was on the Philadelphia Flyers blue line.

"That's what teams need to be successful," Kunitz, a four-time Cup champion, told the website when asked about a mix of youth and experience. "You need the older, veteran core players to do their part, but you also need, every year, a rookie or two to step up so you can duplicate that next year and get better and grow.

"Every team that's successful has a little bit of everybody. Our job as older guys is to make them comfortable and get them into the routine of the NHL as quick as we can, so we can come out as a successful team."

Updated October 3, 2018

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