1. While fans should be initially assessing the play of three new Rangers forwards -- center Oscar Lindberg, left wing Viktor Stalberg, and center Jarret Stoll -- watch the returnees, too:

-- Rick Nash, who scored twice in the first game last season against the Blues.

-- Chris Kreider, who is being counted on to raise his game as a power forward.

-- Kevin Hayes, playing not center, but right wing in the top six.

-- J.T. Miller, on a line with Swedes Lindberg and Stalberg.

2. For the home team in those classic red jerseys, the second line, with former Rangers center Artem Anisimov centering prospect Artemi Panarin (No. 72), likened to a waterbug on the ice, and Patrick Kane, could be potent. The Hawks lost numerous players in trades or free agency this summer, including Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Brad Richards and Antoine Vermette, but still have Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

3. If the game is tied after the third period, we'll see the first 3-on-3 sudden-death overtime that counts. In the five times the Rangers experimented with it in the preseason, there wasn't a lot of flow -- or goals. In fact, there was almost as much 4 on 3, because of penalties, than 3-on-3. If nobody scores, we're back to the shootout. Oh, and coaches can challenge goals that may have been caused by goaltender interference or offsides.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

4. The Rangers' power play, tied for 21st at 16.8 percent last season, needs to fire away and not overpass. Chicago was 10th on the penalty kill last season. Check out Keith Yandle, who can bring an offensive surge.

5. The Rangers will not be on the bench for Chicago's Stanley Cup championship banner-raising. Will the delay while waiting in the locker room affect their energy when the puck finally drops? They've got two more opponents' openers on the road coming up -- Friday in Columbus and in Montreal on Thursday, Oct. 15. Consider it a dress rehearsal.

6. The probable lineup: Forwards: Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello; Kreider-Stepan-Hayes; Miller-Lindberg-Stalberg; Moore-Stoll-Fast; Defense: McDonagh-Girardi; Staal-Boyle, Yandle-Klein. Goalie: Lundqvist.