Chicago Blackhawks fans like to pride themselves on being some of the best not only in hockey, but also across all major sports. Part of that includes catching as many games as possible, whether that’s on television or in person.
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But it’s tough to be around for every single Blackhawks game. Unless you work for or close to the Blackhawks, your life can’t entirely revolve around them. Maybe you want to go out with friends, have to work or just don’t want to watch television the day/night of a Blackhawks game. We’ve all been there.
So I’m going to help you out a bit. Not all Blackhawks games are created equally, so let’s take a look at five you can afford to miss in the 2015-16 regular season:
May 7, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild goalieDevan Dubnyk
(40) covers the puck during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks in game four of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 4-3 sweeping the second round of playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild
Friday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m.
Why skip it: You know I couldn’t leave a Wild game off this list. Sure, it’s the first game between the teams since the conclusion of their third consecutive playoff meeting. But do the Wild really strike you as a team that’s going to try to take out its anger over that in a late-October game? Matt Cooke likely won’t be around, so the answer is probably no.
Both teams still will be working out early-season kinks, especially the Blackhawks with their cap-purge-transformed lineup. The Blackhawks and Wild make for so-so television regardless (minus the upcoming outdoor game), and this game is on a Friday night around Halloween-time. You can’t tell me you’d rather watch Joel Quenneville make grumpy faces behind the bench rather than go to a party dressed up like him.
Feb 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wingKris Versteeg
(23) shoots the puck against New Jersey Devils goalieCory Schneider
(35) during the third period at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks defeat the New Jersey Devils 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks at New Jersey Devils
Friday, Nov. 6, 6 p.m.
Why skip it: This is another Friday night game, for starters. And it’s on at a prime time to go out and enjoy your first day of the weekend. If this game were on the West Coast, you’d have something to come back to later in the evening. But we’re looking at an East Coast game, and against one of the more lackluster teams in the Eastern Conference and entire league.
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The only player really worth watching in New Jersey at this point is Cory Schneider, and when the only opposing player worth keeping an eye on is the goaltender, you can probably skip the game. The Devils didn’t do anything particularly well last season, and they probably won’t do anything that well again this upcoming season. Their biggest offseason moves were acquiring Kyle Palmieri and watching Lou Lamoriello leave. One of those guys doesn’t play hockey, and the other isn’t the Devils savior.
Let’s just hope the Blackhawks don’t skip this game too.
Mar 12, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes goalieMike Smith
(41) makes a save as defensemanMichael Stone
(26) and left wingCraig Cunningham
(22) defend and Chicago Blackhawks centerAndrew Shaw
(65) and left wingBrandon Saad
(20) attack in the second period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks at Arizona Coyotes
Tuesday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m.
Why skip it: Kids will be off from school, some parents will be off from work and the Blackhawks will be facing next season’s worst team in the league (my prediction). If you’re going to stay up late on this mid-week night, do something fun with the family ahead of New Year’s and the rush back to school/work.
Mike Smith and Shane Doan are about the only noticeable guys in Arizona at this point (Oliver Ekman-Larsson is probably the only other one), and they’re both awful. Smith is awful at goaltending and acting, and Doan is just not a nice guy with a misguided loyalty to a fan base that mostly doesn’t care about the Coyotes. Those sound like some exciting things to tune in for. This team will probably already be out of the playoff race at this point, and the Blackhawks can probably get away with looking ahead to the New Year’s Eve game in Colorado. As can you.
Mar 23, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes forwardJordan Staal
(11) is knocked to the ice by Chicago Blackhawks forwardMarcus Kruger
(16) during the 3rd period at PNC Arena. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks at Carolina Hurricanes
Tuesday, Jan. 26, 6:30 p.m.
Why skip it: Sure, there probably isn’t a lot going on when the calendar rolls around to this date, so why not sit down and catch a Blackhawks game? To be honest, I probably will. But if you’re going to skip a game in this scenario, this would be the one to miss. Hurricanes-Blackhawks games in recent years have been as exciting as watching paint dry while simultaneously watching grass grow.
The Hurricanes seem like they should be an alright team, but they’ve bombed a few years in a row and haven’t done a whole lot since winning the first post-lockout (2004-05 lockout) Stanley Cup. They’ve made a whopping one playoff appearance since, and it was back in 2009. Yes, we could’ve had a Blackhawks-Hurricanes Cup Final had Chicago beaten Detroit and if Carolina had also defeated Pittsburgh.
Pretty much the only entertaining thing that comes out of Blackhawks-Hurricanes games of late is the comparison between former Bulls superstar Michael Jordan and current Carolina newcomer Michal Jordan. Entertaining might be too strong a word.
Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks centerJonathan Toews
(19) battles for the puck with Toronto Maple Leafs defensemanJake Gardiner
(51) during the third period of their NHL game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs at Chicago Blackhawks
Monday, Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Why skip it: We might be able to change this one if Mike Babcock is able to create magic is his first year behind the bench. A new head coach might not be enough for the Leafs, who always seem to have some solid talent but can never make it work together on the ice.
In recent years, the Leafs have started strong and fallen apart mid-season. If that holds true in 2015-16, the Blackhawks should be meeting them in the middle of a collapse. A collapse under Babcock seems unheard of, but these are the Maple Leafs. They’re capable of pretty much anything, though that’s been relegated to mostly bad things of late.
The team pretty much has a bunch of talented guys who can’t get along and who have been publicly shopped at one time or another. If you tune in for this game, you’ll probably just hear a lot about that from Pat Foley (unless Toronto is miraculously atop the Eastern Conference).
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