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One Minute Remaining: Game 1 Significance

by Harvey Wittenberg / Chicago Blackhawks

When the Blackhawks face off Oct. 7 in Dallas to begin the 2011-12 campaign, is the final score a barometer for the entire season?

The schedule marks Chicago's 85th season in the NHL, and the Hawks are 35-30-17-2 overall in opening games.

The Hawks have made the playoffs 55 times, which includes 28 straight times from 1970 to 1997, second only to Boston's 29 appearances.

Breaking down the difference between home and road openers over 84 seasons, the Blackhawks are
33-30-19-2 on home ice, which includes the 2009 opener on neutral ice in Finland against Florida. Chicago's road tally is 29-42-12-1.

The Hawks have been in 11 opening game shutouts with a 5-6 record. Glenn Hall registered three whitewashes in season-openers, including his first start in a Hawks uniform in 1957 when he blanked Toronto 1-0 at the Stadium. The eventual Hall of Famer did it again to begin the 1965 and 1966 seasons.

In 2006 at Nashville, the Hawks ran up their highest goal output to start the season with
an 8-6 decision over the Predators. Chicago's widest margin was back in 1938 with a 6-1 romp over the New York Americans.

On other side, in 1944, with many young players serving in the armed forces in World War II,
Toronto beat the Hawks at the Chicago Stadium 11-5.

Comparing the seasons when the Hawks won the Stanley Cup, their record is 0-1-2-1. Other Stanley Cup Final appearances saw the Hawks go 3-1-3 in their season openers.

After being admitted to the NHL on Sept. 25, 1926, the Hawks played their first game on Nov.17, 1926, at the Chicago Coliseum with a 4-1 victory over the Toronto St. Pats. The inaugural game at the Chicago Stadium came on Dec. 15, 1929, when the Hawks whipped the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1.

The Hawks opened the United Center in grand fashion on Jan. 25, 1995, with a 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

At least statistically speaking, starting off the schedule with a victory usually leads to better results. But there will be 81 more opponents to battle in the regular campaign. 

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