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Chicago Blackhawks’ Preseason Slate Features Red Wings, Blue Jackets

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Apr 20, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella (left rear) reacts on the bench against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Pens won the game 5-2 and the series 4 games to 1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella (left rear) reacts on the bench against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Pens won the game 5-2 and the series 4 games to 1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Once again, the Chicago Blackhawks will have six preseason games ahead of a season, though they’ll only take on three teams in the process

On Thursday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks released their preseason schedule for the 2017-18 season. This year, they’ll take on three teams in six games — the same setup as last season.

But while the 2016-17 preseason brought the St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, next season’s slate introduces two new teams for the Blackhawks to tune up against. Here’s the schedule:

Tuesday, Sept. 19: at Columbus Blue Jackets, 6 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 21: vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 23: vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 25: at Boston Bruins, 6 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 28: at Detroit Red Wings, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 30: vs. Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m.

I find it fun when the Blackhawks are able to schedule extra games against teams they don’t see that often, even if it’s not against the complete team. The Red Wings, Blue Jackets and Bruins won’t ice their opening night lineups against the Blackhawks in the preseason, but it’s still some extra action between nonconference opponents.

The key takeaway from any preseason schedule is this: It’s an opportunity to see a Blackhawks game cheaply, and to take in some younger talent. Tickets at the United Center in this era will never be more affordable than during the preseason, so if you’d like to take the family to a game without breaking the bank, you have some options above.

Preseason’s importance from on-ice standpoint

Usually, the preseason is intended to simply be a tuneup for the regular season. And it will be again this upcoming year for the Blackhawks. But they also have quite a few questions they need to get answered, and the preseason will help bring about some answers.

First of all, the Blackhawks are still in need of a backup goaltender. Now, they could go the route of signing a more-proven free agent or trading for an NHL-experienced goaltender, but that doesn’t mean the young guns the Blackhawks have in the system should get no rub.

The preseason will be a good time for a couple of those guys — Jeff Glass, Lars Johansson, Mac Carruth, etc. — to get some rub. I’m not sure exactly how coach Joel Quenneville will handle his roster heading into the preseason, but you’d like it to be more than Corey Crawford and his backup getting starts.

The team also has questions across the skaters in the lineup. The most recent was created when the team signed defenseman Jan Rutta, a Czech free agent who was signed by Chicago earlier this week. How is he going to slot into the lineup? Is he going to be glanced at and tossed aside like Michal Kempny this season?

And what about Kempny? How is he going to be utilized in his second NHL season? And who else will be filling out the back end of Chicago’s defense? The preseason can help answer these questions.

On the forward front, it almost seems a done deal that Marcus Kruger will be with the Vegas Golden Knights next season. So how are the Blackhawks going to respond to filling that hole? They have heir apparent Tanner Kero (used to be Phillip Danault), but that creates yet another hole in the lineup. Again, a question for the preseason to answer.

Next: Blackhawks Are Lacking Defensive Prospects

So the Blackhawks will not simply be putzing around and trying to get through six exhibitions. On the contrary, there should be guys fighting hard for roster spots. The Blackhawks really need to see that, because the lack of fight shown in their early Stanley Cup Playoffs exit this season left a lot to be desired.

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