Guys… it’s ALMOST August. Which means it’s almost September, which means it’s almost October and time for hockey. Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but we’re pretty close to the point where there’s only one more month between us and the season starting. It can’t come soon enough. The World Cup is over, football is only in training camp, and the Cubs and Sox are lousy. So while there’s very little going on in the world of sports, I’ve ranked the top Blackhawks games that you don’t want to miss, complete with the click-bate Buzzfeed-style headline.
8. First Real Challenge – 10/25 - Chicago at St. Louis
The Blackhawks start the season somewhat easy, playing 4 games against teams who didn’t make the playoffs last year and 2 against teams that lost in the first round. We all know nothing is as easy as it seems, so don’t expect a 6-0 start, but look for the St. Louis Blues to be the first real test. The Blues are still going to be pretty upset with the Hawks for knocking them out (in more ways than one) last year and have probably already circled this game on the calendar. Expect it to be brutal.
7. Red Rivals – 11/14 – Chicago at Detroit
Sadly, the move of Detroit to the East last year means fewer Hawks/Wings games, but the intensity is still there. I hope it lasts, and builds even more now that they only play each other twice a year. We can still cling to the hope that the two meet each other in the Stanley Cup Final, but there’s a much better chance the Hawks will be there without them. Look for the Wings to struggle to make the playoffs and not get past the first round if they do.
6. Giant Megan Homestand - 2/9 to 2/24 –Arizona, Vancouver, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Colorado, Boston, and Florida ALL at Chicago.
The band Flatfoot56 has a song called “Winter in Chicago” where they sing “…and the Hawks are on tonight.” Well, that song will ring true pretty much the entire month of February where the Blackhawks get a nice break from the road with an eight game home stand. I hereby declare February the month of the Blackhawk, and vow to watch every one of those games.
5. Winter Classic Preview – 11/7 - Washington at Chicago
This game could make a huge impact on the Winter Classic. Will the teams get chippy? Will there be a blowout that makes one team seek revenge? Any fights or dirty hits going to cause problems? At this point it should be enough time to see how the Capitals’ new coach is holding up, too.
4. First Home Game – 10/11 - Buffalo at Chicago
The Blackhawks only have to wait two days from the start of the season until their first home game. Contrast that with the Rangers who last year had to had to wait 23 days and 9 games before MSG saw them. There’s always a buzz in Chicago when the Hawks play their first at home, and it’s an excitement unlike any other.
3. Opening Day – 10/9 - Chicago at Dallas
At this point, I want to put this at number one since I CAN’T WAIT for hockey to be back, but I think it fits nicely at number three. I’m a little concerned though, because I might miss it. Our new baby is due on October 10, one day later. Is it wrong for me to hope he’s not early? Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to be having a baby boy. We’ve got our nursery decked out with these blue crib sheets and the walls are a nice paint called Gossamer Sky instead of Hawks colors (I’m not THAT crazy). And I really wouldn’t miss the birth of my son for a hockey game. But still… I’m hoping there’s a TV in the delivery room.
2. Last Game of the Season – 4/11 – Chicago at Colorado
Every team is playing on April 11, which will create some serious drama. I’m guessing the top seed could still be up for grabs, and it could be between Chicago and Colorado. This game could have a huge impact across the league. It might even help determine the next Stanley Cup Winner.
1. Winter Classic – 1/1 – Chicago at Washington
You guys aren’t sick of being in the Winter Classic, right? Heck no! Although I think this might be our last one for a while, since they can’t seriously give it to us every year. So make this one huge. I’ll be having a giant party. I know I couldn’t convince my wife to deck the baby’s room out in Hawks colors, but check out our ceramic cookware set we got for our wedding. Yep… Red and Black. I didn’t mention to my wife why I wanted that color until we had it. If I could only paint a logo on it… ah, oh well. Anyway, let’s hope the Hawks get another win in the Classic, and let’s also hope there’s a giant snowstorm like last year.
Let the countdown to the season begin!