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Blackhawks are ready for opening night

Nick Leddy, 19, is so excited about his first NHL game that he might forego the traditional game-day nap. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Woods

DENVER -- Before the Chicago Blackhawks open defense of their Stanley Cup title, the Colorado Avalanche will celebrate the anniversary of theirs.

Members of the 1996 Stanley Cup team -- including then assistant coach Joel Quenneville -- will be honored before the game. According to Quenneville, it just adds to the excitement.

"It's amazing how quickly 15 years goes past you," he said. "We'll get a little [recognition] before the game, but once it starts it's back to trying to beat each other up."

Lineup

The lines remained the same as they have been over the past two days. This is how the Hawks will line up for their opening game:

Tomas Kopecky/Jonathan Toews/Marian Hossa

Fernando Pisani/Patrick Sharp/Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell/Dave Bolland/Troy Brouwer

Viktor Stalberg/Jake Dowell/Jack Skille

Duncan Keith/Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson/Nick Leddy, Jordan Hendry/John Scott

Handling Leddy

Nineteen-year-old Nick Leddy said he was a "little nervous" after Thursday's morning practice. He said he probably won't take the traditional afternoon nap between practice and gametime, but he says he's ready for his first NHL contest. Quenneville says Leddy should be ready for a faster pace.

"We'll keep an eye on him," Quenneville said. "We've got some guys who have been in those shoes. It's a delicate position to enter as a young kid. He's earned the right ... [We'll] see how he handles it [and] watch his ice time. He's going to get reasonable minutes right off the bat here."

Rock Star Treatment

The Hawks have hired traveling security. Mike Higgins, who works security at the United Center, has been hired on by the team. The Hawks are believed to be the only team in the NHL with traveling security.

Boynton here

Nick Boynton made the trip to Denver but is suspended for opening night after making a throat slashing gesture in a preseason game.

The Numbers

  • Going back to their days as the Quebec Nordiques, the Avalanche have the best winning percentage in the NHL on opening night. They are 17-6-7. In home openers, the franchise is 21-5-4, including 7-1-2 at the Pepsi Center. The Blackhawks are 35-30-18 in season openers, and have lost four of their last five, including last season in Finland. They are 15-21-6 in openers on the road and 29-42-12 all-time in their first road game of the season

  • The Hawks were 3-0-1 last season against the Avalanche. Three of the games ended in a shootout.