Although the Blackhawks made some amazing strides as a team last season, they’re about to find that exceeding last season’s performance will be a major chore based on the schedule ahead.
I'm not saying that NHL schedule-makers went out of their way to make things tough for Chicago, but let me point out a few interesting facts:
- Not only are the Hawks facing the most back-to-back games in the season’s final five weeks, but Chicago will have more road contests (11) than home (10) during the final six weeks of the campaign for the first time since moving into the United Center in 1995.
- Chicago has 19 back-to-back battles in the upcoming season compared to 16 last season. Of the 19 back-to-backs, six feature two road contests but none are comprised of consecutive home games.
- The schedule includes another eight-game road trip running from January 16-30. To put that in perspective, the longest trip in Blackhawks history was nine games in 1994 and the team went 4-5.
- The Blackhawks only have one five-game homestand (12/13-22) – their longest of the season – and play four straight at the UC just twice.
- After a four-game homestand that concludes March 10, the Hawks don't have two games in a row at the UC through the end of the season.
With the success achieved last season, head coach Joel Quenneville knows his players will have to be ready every night for the Hawks to be a top contender. While the schedule appears to be tougher than last season, the players know they will have to raise their level even higher to achieve their "One Goal" for this season: a Stanley Cup championship!