Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
The timing for the start of the 2013 shortened NHL season is going to hurt the Blackhawks.
As we wait for the NHL to release the official schedule one can only speculate when the first time we will see our Blackhawks on United Center ice is . It will not be on January 19th when the season kicks off because the Chicago Bulls have a home game that night. Rumors have been flying around that the Hawks will be taking part in another banner raising ceremony and will open the season at the Los Angeles Kings. It would be an interesting opening game but I am not sure it makes sense. Oh wait, why should I expect anything about the NHL to make sense? Silly me!
Opening against in Los Angeles doesn't make too much sense because the Hawks have to vacate the United Center from January 30th until February 12th because of Disney on Ice. The Bulls have home games on January 28th and on February 11th. Wouldn't make it much more sense for the Blackhawks to make a west coast sweep in the 12 days they can not play at home? The Hawks can take care of their only trips to the Oilers, Flames, Canucks, Sharks, Kings and Ducks on that road trip. Why have them play one game out west to start the year when an extended trip is so much more logical?
The NHL wants to have its opening day feature some its biggest rivalries. With that being said the Kings should be playing the Ducks, Sharks or even renew the playoff rivalry with the Coyotes. The Hawks should open with a road game against either the hated Blues or Red Wings. But, I have seen reports that St. Louis and Detroit will be playing against each other. If that is the case, the ideal opening game for the Blackhawks should be against the Predators in Nashville.
So when do we finally get to enjoy a Blackhawks home game? On the original schedule the Hawks were suppose to host the Flyers on January 20th. I find it hard to believe that the NHL would schedule back to back games right out of the box, especially after only one week of training camp. The Bulls have home games on the 21st and 23rd, so my educated guess is the Hawks home opener will be on Tuesday January 22nd. They would only have three other chances to host a game before Mickey and crew take over the Madhouse; on the 24th, 27th and 29th.
In a season where a slow start can kill you, the Hawks will have a very challenging start to the season. The only savior to possibly stumbling out of the gate is all your games are against Western Conference teams. This is just one of many story lines for a crazy start to the NHL's season.