With little going on until September, we look ahead to the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2016-17 schedule
The draft is over, as is the opening day of free agency. Teams aren’t done constructing their rosters for the 2016-17 season, but there won’t be nearly as much noise until we reach the month of September. That’s when the World Cup of Hockey, NHL training camps and preseason action will get underway.
So we need something to look ahead to. The only real tangible thing we have right now is the upcoming season’s schedule. There are 82 games, as usual, but some are going to be much more worth your time than others.
Let’s take a look at a game most worth tuning in for each month, and another that you can probably skip.
Check out: St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.
It’s the season opener, the Blackhawks’ home opener and a game between two of the more bitter rivals in the league. These teams will look quite a bit different from when they last met, as the Blackhawks have lost several players to free agency and trades, while the Blues have seen key players leave in free agency.
The Blackhawks will also be looking for some revenge for their playoff exit last season. The United Center should be rocking.
Tune out: Chicago Blackhawks at New Jersey Devils, Oct. 28, 6:30 p.m.
Both games against the Devils last year went really poorly for the Blackhawks. While goaltender Cory Schneider is one of the league’s better netminders, it’s more a case of the Blackhawks struggling to get up for a “meh” Eastern Conference foe.
The Devils project to be better next season after some recent maneuvers, but you can probably find something better to do on a Friday night right before Halloween than tune in to this game.
Check out: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars, Nov. 5, 7 p.m.; Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 6, 6 p.m.
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It’s a home-and-home with the Stars, who whipped the Blackhawks for most of last season. This should be an entertaining pair of games, as it’ll be the first two times the teams meet in this upcoming season. Home-and-homes are usually entertaining because things get chippy and weird in the second half of them. Things will be ticked up even more with divisional foes doing this dance.
Tune out: Chicago Blackhawks at Vancouver Canucks, Nov. 19, 9 p.m.
This is a Saturday game in the middle of the annual Circus Trip. These aren’t the Canucks of several years ago. They have Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, but that’s about all that’s interesting to tune in for at this point.
Check out: Chicago Blackhawks at New York Islanders, Dec. 15, 6 p.m.
The Islanders are a really entertaining team, in my view. They play a pretty fast-paced style that has led to some fun games with the Blackhawks in the recent past. Plus, the Isles now have Andrew Ladd on top of fellow former Blackhawk Nick Leddy. Always good to renew acquaintances.
Tune out: Chicago Blackhawks at Carolina Hurricanes, Dec. 30, 6:30 p.m.
Yes, I know I just said it’s always good to renew acquaintances, and the Blackhawks know many of the 2016-17 Hurricanes — Bryan Bickell, Teuvo Teravainen, Joakim Nordstrom, Viktor Stalberg and Kris Versteeg, if the last one re-signs. But these games have typically been awful in recent years, and with this one just before New Year’s Eve, there’s very little chance the Blackhawks will get up for it.
Check out: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues, Jan. 2, noon
It’s the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium, another game the Blackhawks sadly probably won’t get up for (if their recent record in these events is any indication). But you still can’t miss it, as the outdoor games are a spectacle that never really gets old to viewers. It should be fun to see how Busch Stadium looks with a hockey rink inside it, and you know the fans will be ready to go.
Tune out: Carolina Hurricanes at Chicago Blackhawks, Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m.
I actually feel a little bad putting this one on here, what with the former Blackhawks I mentioned above returning to the UC. But, again, the Blackhawks probably won’t get up for this game, and it’s on a Friday night. There’s likely better things to do than watch this contest.
Check out: Arizona Coyotes at Chicago Blackhawks, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Games between these teams in the last couple years have had an oddly bitter underlying to them. The teams seem very angry at each other, though the Coyotes’ anger can probably be attributed to the Blackhawks piling up goals on them. Mike Smith and Shane Doan always make you want to beat this team, but Arizona also has some young talent worth watching.
Tune out: Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers, Feb. 11, 9 p.m.
They do have Connor McDavid, but this game is the last of a six-game Disney On Ice roadtrip for the Blackhawks, and also the last game before the All-Star break, Additionally, I’m not sure exactly what the Oilers are doing to their roster this offseason, so they may be in shambles by this point.
Check out: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings, March 10, 6:30 p.m.
It will be the Blackhawks’ final trip to Joe Louis Arena (barring a Stanley Cup Final matchup), so you’ve got to tune in for that. Plus, we only get two of these games every season between longtime rivals. Best to catch at least one of them, right?
Tune out: Chicago Blackhawks at Toronto Maple Leafs, March 18, 6 p.m.
I’m sure Auston Matthews will be fun to watch, but I’m not sure the rest of the team will be at this point. It could be another punching bag game for the Blackhawks, like when they put up seven on the Leafs late last regular season. Another confidence boosting opportunity for Scott Darling as well, perhaps.
Check out: Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings, April 8, 9:30 p.m.
It’s a really late game, but it is on a Saturday, and it is the end of the regular season. This is usually a game the Blackhawks line up some of their youngsters to give the stars rest before the playoffs. But both of these teams could be fighting for playoff positioning at this point, so we may see fully loaded rosters on display.
Tune out: None
There’s only four regular-season games in this month, and none of them are particularly bad. If you hate waking up before noon, maybe the Blackhawks-Bruins game at 11:30 a.m. on April 2 isn’t for you. Other than that, however, I think you should watch all four of April’s offerings.