|The Blackhawks will face off against the Washington Capitals in the nation's capital on New Years Day 2015.
Starting off any season, the goal is to first make the playoffs and eventually capture the Stanley Cup—sounds easy?
Well these days, especially in the talent-laden Western Conference and the tough Central Division where the Blackhawks compete, the task is even more challenging. It appears, with the summer's free agent signings, that most of the West's squads improved themselves; the Blackhawks certainly added a proven veteran center and scorer with the signing of Brad Richards.
Looking at the season ahead, it seems like Chicago will face a major challenge in three different segments of the schedule. The traditional November west coast swing starts off with the last home game against division foe Dallas on Nov. 16, followed by six straight matches against the Pacific Division on the road, then a return home on to face division rival St. Louis on Dec. 3.
Then, from Jan. 4-Feb. 11, the Blackhawks have 17 games, with their only Eastern Conference game a Jan. 21 tilt at Pittsburgh as part of a back-to-back. Half of the remaining 16 games are against division opponents. The regular-season schedule winds down in April against four of Chicago's toughest division rivals: St. Louis twice, Minnesota and Colorado.
At least the Blackhawks will have fewer back-to-back situations this season—14, compared to 19 in 2013-14. Four of these will be entirely on the road; six start away and finish at the United Center, and the other four begin at the UC and end on the road.
February is the most favorable month for games at the UC, with eight straight beginning Feb. 9 against Arizona and winding up with Florida on Feb. 24. However, that schedule is preceded by seven straight road contests from Jan. 21-Feb. 8.
The most obvious highlight of the regular-season schedule is the Bridgestone Winter Classic on New Years in Washington, D.C., against the Capitals. Besides this marquee event, the Blackhawks face archrival Detroit on the road on Nov. 14 and host the Red Wings on Feb. 18. And there will be three lively meetings with the Kings: in Los Angeles on Nov. 29 and Jan. 28, plus a tilt in Chicago on March 30.
We eagerly await the drop of the puck at the preseason home opener against Detroit on Sept. 23—and the renewed chants of "Let's Go Hawks!"