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Lear's Look: 2016-17 dates to remember

by Eric Lear / Chicago Blackhawks

On Tuesday, the Chicago Blackhawks along with the National Hockey League announced the 2016-17 regular-season schedule. Below are a few highlights:

Wednesday, October 12: The Blackhawks open the new campaign on home ice against the Central Division rival St. Louis Blues. Last season, the Blues finished the year with the third-best record in the league, while the Blackhawks were just two spots behind. Despite such similar records, they met in the first round of the playoffs and battled in a tightly contested seven-game series. Between two preseason tilts, opening night and the Winter Classic later this season, the rivalry between the clubs should continue to intensify.

Friday, October 14: The first road trip of the season is a one-game trip to another Central Division city, Nashville. That’s the first game of a home-and-home series on consecutive days.

Tuesday, November 15-Saturday, November 26: On this date the Blackhawks drop the puck in Winnipeg against the Jets in the first game of the annual Circus Trip. The next three games are also in Canada—Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton—against teams that didn’t make the playoffs a year ago. The final three games of the seven-game trip will be in California against San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles, all playoff teams in 2016. In all, the Blackhawks will have 16 days between home games during this stretch.

Monday, January 2: The storied rivalry between the Blackhawks and Blues has seen showdowns at the Checkerdome, Scottrade Center, Chicago Stadium and United Center. This year they’ll head outside to Busch Stadium for the 2017 Winter Classic. The Blues will be playing in their first outdoor game, while the Blackhawks will be taking part in their league-leading fifth overall and fourth in as many years.

Tuesday, January 31-Saturday, February 11: Two and a half months after the Circus Trip, the Blackhawks embark on another long road swing, beginning with the third and final tilt of the season against Stanley Cup finalist San Jose. Then it’s on to Arizona and Dallas. The second half of the trip will see the Blackhawks take on the Wild, Jets and Oilers.

Saturday, February 18: Speaking of Edmonton, Connor McDavid, last year’s first-overall pick, is scheduled to play at the United Center for the first time in his career on this date. McDavid never suited up against Chicago last season because of a collarbone injury. He finished his rookie year with 16 goals and 32 assists in just 45 games and was a Calder Trophy finalist. This game picks up after the Blackhawks’ one-week bye, a new feature instituted for all 30 teams this season, which could be a crucial rest period heading down the stretch.

Wednesday, March 1: The United Center will host a marquee matchup on the first day of March, when the last two Stanley Cup champions meet for the first time. The Blackhawks won both tilts against Pittsburgh last year thanks in part to Artemi Panarin, who tallied four goals in two nights, including the game-winner in both meetings.

Friday, March 10: Blackhawks fans will get their last chance to watch their favorite team take on Original Six foe Detroit at the famed Joe Louis Arena. This season will be the Red Wings’ last at the barn they’ve called home since 1979. Starting next year, Detroit will play their home games at a $627-million-dollar stadium called Little Caesars Arena.

Tuesday, April 4-Saturday, April 8: Chicago wraps up the 2016-17 season on a three-game road trip beginning in Denver against the Avalanche. Two days later, they’ll take on the Anaheim Ducks before playing the Los Angeles Kings in the regular-season finale on April 8. Meanwhile, the United Center will host the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four for the first time on April 6 and 8.

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