The 2014-15 schedule is set to provide more than a few memorable moments for the Blackhawks and their fans. Here are a few dates fans should circle in their calendars for the approaching regular season.
Thu., Oct. 9 at Dallas: The Blackhawks return to the ice for the first time in 2014-15 against the Stars, who are fresh off their first playoff appearance since 2007-08. Dallas is led by two of the West's best playmakers in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and will want to impress their home crowd with a big divisional win to start the season.
Tue., Nov. 11 vs. Tampa Bay: Of the Blackhawks' 29 opponents last season, there were only two they did not defeat: the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Steven Stamkos returns to face the Blackhawks, having scored 14 points (9G, 5A, including two hat tricks) in seven career games against Chicago.
Sat., Nov. 29 at Los Angeles: Following one of the best playoff series in recent memory, the Blackhawks and Kings stage a rematch for the first time since Game 7 of the 2014 Western Conference Final. Despite being the last stop on the six-game "Circus Trip," expect the Blackhawks to bring their best effort against the defending Stanley Cup champs.
Wed., Dec. 3 vs. St. Louis: The stroll down playoff memory lane continues when the Blues visit Chicago for the first time since their Game 6 ouster in the first round of the 2014 postseason. The Blackhawks and Blues have officially rekindled their Norris Division-era rivalry, and the two teams always bring a little extra physicality to their matchups.
Thu., Jan. 1 at Washington: Perhaps the biggest announcement to come out of the NHL's schedule announcement was the fact that the Blackhawks will be the visiting team at the 2015 Winter Classic in Washington, D.C. Chicago will close out their season series against Alex Ovechkin, new head coach Barry Trotz and the Caps in the NHL's signature New Year event, as well as play their second outdoor game in two seasons.
Wed., Jan. 28-Sun., Feb. 8: Following the NHL's All-Star Break, Chicago will embark on perhaps their most daunting road trip of the season, visiting five 2014 playoff teams across the conference (L.A., Anaheim, San Jose, Minnesota, St. Louis), as well as a brief trip to Canada to take on the feisty Winnipeg Jets. A strong showing in this six-game trip would be just the thing to kickstart the second half of the season.
Sun., Feb. 22 vs. Boston: Arguably no team played the Blackhawks tougher in the regular season than the Boston Bruins, who took the Blackhawks to a shootout in their first 2013-14 matchup, then shut Chicago out in the second. Despite a disappointing end to their season, the Bruins are still one of the dominant powers in the East, and will no doubt have championship aspirations again in 2014-2015.
Sun., April 5-Sat., April 11: The Blackhawks close out their 2014-15 campaign with four tough divisional matchups (vs. St. Louis, vs. Minnesota, at St. Louis, at Colorado) with likely playoff seeding implications. The Central Division came down to the last day of the season in 2013-14, and there's a strong possibility that the four teams involved will be battling in a similar fashion this coming year.