Although the Chicago Blackhawks kick off the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night, the team revealed next season’s preseason schedule, which includes two home-and-home series against the Detroit Red Wings and the St. Louis Blues.
The Blackhawks kick off the 2015 preseason with their former Central Division rivals Sept. 22 at home. The team then travels to Detroit to complete the series the next day. It’s the first time the Hawks will face their arch-nemesis St. Louis in an exhibition game since the 2010preseason. The Hawks host the Blues Sept. 26 and play at the Scottrade Center Oct. 1.
The other opponents on Chicago’s preseason slate are the Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars. The Hawks go to Quebec Sept. 25 and welcome Dallas to the United Center for the preseason finale Oct. 3.
Renewing rivalries a bit earlier than normal is an interesting attempt by the NHL to generate more interest in the preseason. Drawing fans to preseason contests hasn’t been much of a problem for Chicago. The franchise broke a franchise preseason attendance record in 2010 when 20,553 fans flocked to the United Center for the preseason opener against the Red Wings.
The rivalry with Detroit has lost some steam after Detroit moved to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 season. The absence of Detroit from the Central has only fueled the fire between the Hawks and Blues. Chicago lost three of the five games against St. Louis this season, including the final two games of the series. The Hawks have had the last laugh in the postseason, however, as the Hawks advanced further than the Blues once again in the 2015 postseason. Chicago’s disposal of the Blues in six games during the 2014 postseason is still fresh in the mind of players and fans alike.
The Blackhawks went 2-3-1 in last year’s preseason, with one loss coming against the New York Rangers in the preseason finale. Chicago split the home-and-home series with Detroit, winnings 2-1 in overtime at the United Center and dropping the second game 3-2 on the road. Chicago also lost to the Canadiens 3-1 at home last preseason.
There will be plenty to watch on the ice even if the stars won’t get a ton of playing time during the preseason. After what looks to be a tumultuous offseason, the Blackhawks could be breaking in plenty of new players during the 2015 preseason.
The Hawks may be a different team in many aspects and there could be plenty of competition during the exhibition slate. There will likely be competition for the fifth and sixth defensemen spots and possibly more depending on how the offseason turns out.