Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues To Open Next Season

By Colin Likas
Apr 25, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) chases Chicago Blackhawks right wing Richard Panik (14) during the first period in game seven of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) chases Chicago Blackhawks right wing Richard Panik (14) during the first period in game seven of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Central Division Rivals Will Square Off To Begin 2016-17 Campaign

In the past several years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been opening the regular season against opponents we don’t often see. It was the New York Rangers last season, the Washington Capitals in 2013 and the Los Angeles Kings in … earlier 2013 (the lockout season). Only the Dallas Stars in 2014 broke that trend.

But the NHL has decided to really break the trend to start the 2016-17 run, as the Blackhawks will host the Central Division rival St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, Oct. 12 to begin the regular season. This is certainly the earliest date in some time that these two teams will have met in the regular season, and it should generate some extra excitement for the start of a new season.

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The Blackhawks and Blues will also face off twice in the preseason, including the final game for both teams before they start counting for real. So there could be a little extra animosity rolling over to the season opener between these teams — even more so than usual.

It makes sense for the NHL to make this game a season-opener, as it’s one they can easily display on NBC Sports Network. Although they may be competing for eyes with the MLB postseason (depending on how the Cubs, White Sox and Cardinals are involved), it should still draw a pretty strong television viewing audience. And you know the United Center will be rocking.

At least one of these teams will look noticeably different from the last time they met when they square off on Oct. 12 (disregarding the preseason games, which will be dotted with minor leaguers). The Blackhawks will at least be missing Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise and maybe Tomas Fleischmann and Michal Rozsival, while the Blues could be in store for some changes after a deeper playoff run that still fell short of the ultimate goal.

While this does make for an exciting opening to the season, it also means we’ll see less of the Blues later in the season, which is always a bit of a disappointment. Rivalry games are the ones fans really get up for as the season reaches its dog days of February and March. Still, it’s a wise choice by the NHL to open with these two, as they put on a good show in the most-recent postseason.

Next: Teuvo Trade A Double-Edged Sword

The rest of the regular-season schedule is still unknown, but will probably come out some time later this month. The Blackhawks’ preseason slate, outside of two games against St. Louis (on Oct. 1 and Oct. 8) includes tilts against Pittsburgh (Sept. 28 and Sept. 30) and Detroit (Oct. 2 and Oct. 4). The Sept. 28, Oct. 1 and Oct. 4 games will all be at the United Center.

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