All 82 Chicago Blackhawks Regular Season Games Are Now Known
Looking forward to the next NHL season can really begin in force today, as regular-season schedules for all 30 teams were released. Season-opening games were leaked Monday, but now we have another 81 games to go with those.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, the schedule has a bit of a different look to the ones of the recent past. An Eastern Conference-tinged start is not in the cards, which is totally fine by me. November and March will be heavy-load months, and the end of the season offers a bit of a test.
Let’s break things down month by month and look for exciting and/or uninspiring games and trends in the 2016-17 Blackhawks schedule.
Home: St. Louis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Toronto, Calgary, Los Angeles
Road: Nashville, Columbus, New Jersey
This is a nice start to the schedule for the Blackhawks, with only three games away from the United Center in their first nine. That’ll be especially helpful considering what trouble the World Cup of Hockey might cause with training camp.
As we already knew, the Blackhawks and Blues will open the season on Oct. 12. A home-and-home against the Preds shortly after that (Oct. 14-15) is quite the surprise, considering it gets 40 percent of the Blackhawks’ games against Nashville this season out of the way before we have a chance to survey the season’s landscape.
There is another back-to-back on the schedule in October, coming the 21st and 22nd on the road against Columbus and back home against Toronto. You would have to say that falls on the easier side of the back-to-back spectrum, even with the bit of travel involved.
Home: Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Washington, Montreal, Florida
Road: Dallas, St. Louis, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles
Any nice feelings the October portion of the schedule inspired are wiped out by the following month. Fifteen games in 30 days is a solid slate, and it includes three back-to-backs.
The annual Circus Trip (seven road games) is involved here, starting with Winnipeg on Nov. 15 and concluding at Los Angeles on Nov. 26. Adding road games against the Stars and Blues to that mix makes for a strong early test for an as-of-now-uncertain Blackhawks squad.
After the Flames and Avs, the final four home games offer some star power and/or familiar faces at each turn. Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya will come back to the UC on Nov. 6, Alex Ovechkin and friends stop by Nov. 11, Carey Price (if healthy) and P.K. Subban are in town Nov. 13 and Jaromir Jagr makes what could always be his last visit to the Madhouse on Nov. 29.
Home: New Jersey, Winnipeg, Arizona, New York Rangers, Dallas, San Jose, Ottawa, Colorado, Winnipeg
Road: Philadelphia, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, St. Louis, Nashville, Carolina
The Blackhawks get two four-game homestands in this month, and they offer some beatable teams with the Jets on both and the Avs, Senators and Coyotes involved in one or the other. There’s a three-game road swing squeezed between them, taking Chicago to both New York arenas and Fried Ravioli Land.
Three more back-to-backs in this month, including one that’s guaranteed to include at least one loss for the Blackhawks. I’m not sure what it is with the NHL scheduling Blackhawks-Hurricanes games for times no one cares about, but I can almost guarantee the guys in the Indian Head are not showing up for a Dec. 30 game in Carolina one night after playing in Nashville.
After a tough November, this portion of the calendar should offer the Blackhawks the chance to bulk up for an annual second-half swoon — if this 2016-17 team is at all like teams of the recent past.
Home: Buffalo, Carolina, Nashville, Detroit, Minnesota, Vancouver, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg
Road: St. Louis, Washington, Colorado, Boston, San Jose
This is a weird month, and a pretty light one as well. Only one back-to-back, and it’s two home games against the Hurricanes and Sabres. Chicago has a four-game homestand early in the month and a three-gamer toward the end, and there are bad teams all over both.
This month starts, however, with the Winter Classic game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. No one should be surprised if the Blackhawks get turned into mush like they did last season in Minnesota, as this is probably the only outdoor game the Blues will get until a pity one with Detroit three or four years from now.
For some reason, there’s a random game with Minnesota (Nov. 15) thrown in the middle of a three-game “roadtrip,” which sends the team from Washington, back to Chicago, to Colorado and then Boston. Yuck.
Home: Edmonton, Arizona, St. Louis
Road: Arizona, Dallas, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Buffalo, Minnesota
That is an apt description. February is not the month to try and take the family to a Blackhawks game, although I imagine tickets will be easier to come by for the Oilers and Coyotes tilts.
The usually-annual Disney On Ice trip starts with the last game of January in San Jose before five more in February leading up to the All-Star break. It’s certainly not a murderer’s row with the Coyotes, Stars, Wild, Jets and Oilers, but this is typically a time the Blackhawks start to experience a lull in play, so it could get ugly at times.
The team starts a four-game homestand late in the month with tilts against Arizona (Feb. 23) and St. Louis (Feb. 26), which means from Feb. 1-22, the Blackhawks have one home game.
Home: Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, Anaheim, Minnesota, Colorado, Vancouver, Dallas, Columbus
Road: Nashville, Detroit, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh
There’s that Eastern Conference flair. This is another busy month, with three back-to-backs and 16 games in 31 days. There are two games to end a four-game homestand, a separate three-game homestand and two three-game roadtrips in this month as well.
This month is somehow the first time the Blackhawks and defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will meet. You figure the NHL would’ve set that up sooner. The other Red Wings game also falls on this month (on a Friday, Mar. 10, no less).
There’s very little divisional action for the Blackhawks in this month (four games), so they’ll need to fight the desire to fall asleep, especially if they’re fighting for a playoff spot.
Road: Colorado, Anaheim, Los Angeles
This is unfortunate. If the Blackhawks are fighting for a playoff spot heading into April, they’ll be getting no help from the league in obtaining it.
After a home game against the Bruins in April 2, the Blackhawks head on a three-game roadtrip to close the regular season. All of those games have an 8 p.m. or later (Central time) puck drop, and the guess here is at least one of those three teams will be playoff bound — and probably more.
A nice personal note for me on this month is the Blackhawks have a game on my birthday again, being in Anaheim on April 6. And I happen to have family in nearby Los Angeles. As good an excuse as any to go out there.