Chicago Blackhawks Will Play 3 Teams Twice Each This Preseason
We’re in that awkward period between when the Chicago Blackhawks have been eliminated from the playoffs and when the NHL season ends, opening the doors for free agency, draft and salary cap chatter. Sure, we’ve had a few things to discuss — Michal Kempny’s signing, the World Cup of Hockey — but it’s been mostly quiet the last several weeks.
And it still is today, but at least we have some little Blackhawks tidbit to talk about as the calendar flips to June. The Blackhawks released their 2016 preseason schedule today. It consists of six games against three teams — the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Detroit Red Wings and the St. Louis Blues.
The Penguins could be the reigning Stanley Cup winners when they come to the United Center on Sept. 28 to open Chicago’s preseason run. Of course, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a majority of that team regardless, but it’d be an added touch. The Blackhawks head to CONSOL Energy Center two days later for a delayed home-and-home.
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That second game starts a string of three games in three days for the Blackhawks, almost unheard of in hockey. This certainly has something to do with the World Cup of Hockey possibly lasting until Oct. 1 (more on that in a bit), but it’s still pretty weird to see, even in the preseason. It should give Joel Quenneville plenty of space to use all types of lineups, especially since his roster won’t have to be set for about a week after the third consecutive game.
Among those three straight games are one each against St. Louis and Detroit. The Blues could look a bit different next season, while the Red Wings will as well. David Backes could be on his way out in St. Louis, and Pavel Datsyuk is pretty much definitely on his way out in Detroit. There was no guarantee we would see these players in preseason action anyway, but not having them around would certainly change the feel of those teams.
Another game against Detroit follows the three in three days setup before the Blackhawks close with a second tilt against St. Louis. Every other game will be held at the Madhouse on Madison, with all of those boasting a traditional 7:30 p.m. start time. If you want your cheapest possible chance to see some of your favorite Blackhawks, as well as some of their top prospects, these three games are your chance.
Now, I keep bringing up the possibility that we don’t see many of the opponents’ top players during these games. This wouldn’t be at all unusual, as teams generally don’t start icing most of their regular-season lineups until the last one or two games of the preseason. But the World Cup of Hockey this year adds a ripple to that.
Play could last until Oct. 1, which is smack dab in the middle of the preseason. There are going to be NHL players still involved in the World Cup if it does run until then, as there are several on each of the eight teams. So that means we’re not going to see a lot of the league’s best players involved in more than maybe one preseason game.
It could offer a look into how good or bad an NHL team’s chemistry is if, once the 2016-17 season starts, teams shine despite or struggle due to top players being at the World Cup and not preparing with their teams. It doesn’t mean much for the preseason (despite fans not getting to see some of their favorites, which was always a risk to begin with), but it could impact the regular season.