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Blackhawks week ahead: Chicago returns home after circus trip

The longest road trip of the season is over and the Hawks are returning home.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks are heading back home after the conclusion of the circus trip, which saw the team post a 3-1-2 record and maintain its place in the middle of the Western Conference playoff pack. After a busy stretch that saw the Hawks play three games in four nights -- only getting off Thanksgiving Day -- the team plays just twice between last Saturday and the upcoming Sunday. Nine of Chicago's next 13 games will be at home, too.

Let's take a look at the upcoming week in Blackhawks' hockey (all times Central):

Monday - Off day

A fairly light Monday around the NHL with just four games. The only Central Division team suiting up is the Avalanche, who will be on the road taking on the Islanders. If you're in Canada, the matchup between the Oilers and Maple Leafs will be on TSN. Otherwise there's not too much going on in the hockey world as it gears up for a much busier Tuesday.

IceHogs: Idle

Central Division: COL at NYI

Tuesday - Wild at Blackhawks, 7 p.m. (NBCSN, CSN-C)

The opening of December sees 10 games on the docket, including the Blackhawks hosting the Wild in their first game at the United Center since a win over Calgary on Nov. 15. Minnesota has been a disaster of sorts lately, posting a 1-4-2 record over its past seven games, including three straight losses at home. We'll see if the Hawks can extend that losing streak to four. That's the first game of a double-header on NBCSN, which will follow up the contest with a late-night matchup between the Penguins and Sharks in San Jose.

IceHogs: Idle

Central Division: COL at NJ, FLA at STL, ARI at NSH, DAL at CGY

Wednesday - Off day

Another day off for the Hawks and a slow one in general for the league. Just four games going on Wednesday, although the NBCSN matchup between the Rangers and Islanders will be one to watch. It's the first time NYR will visit the Isles' new digs in Brooklyn.

IceHogs: Rockford visits Texas Stars, 7:30 p.m.

Central Division: NSH at BUF, STL at PIT, WPG at WSH, VAN at MIN, OTT at COL

Thursday - Blackhawks at Senators, 6:30 p.m. (CSN-C)

The Hawks will head to Ottawa for the only time this season Thursday, ending a brief stay back in Chicago with a brief trip to Canada. The Senators have been hot lately, winning four of their past five with a 22-11 goal differential, so this won't be a cupcake game. Even in Ottawa's recent loss to Arizona, which snapped a four-game winning streak, the Sens posted a 38-19 shot advantage. These days, the team isn't messing around.

Elsewhere on the schedule, there's a must-see game between the Canadiens and Capitals in Montreal. The top two teams in the Eastern Conference should put on a show Thursday.

IceHogs: Idle

Central Division action: COL at NYR, FLA at NSH, TOR at MIN, DAL at VAN

Friday - Off day

No game Friday as the Hawks travel home from Canada to settle in for a few days. The biggest game on the schedule will see division rival St. Louis face the Islanders in Brooklyn. The Blues have been alternating wins and losses over the past couple weeks so they're still searching for some consistency.

IceHogs: Rockford visits San Antonio Rampage, 7:30 p.m.

Steel: Chicago visits Lincoln Stars at 7:05 p.m.

Central Division action: STL at NYI, DAL at EDM

Saturday - Off day

A busy day for the NHL but not for the Hawks, who will be on the sidelines preparing for their next game. The schedule still sees several interesting matchups, including an afternoon bout between the Penguins and Kings, so there's no shortage of options if you're still looking for a day of hockey. A late-night matchup between the Lightning and Sharks should be fun, too.

IceHogs: Idle

Steel: Chicago visits Sioux Falls Stampede, 7:05 p.m.

Central Division: WSH at WPG, NSH at DET, TOR at STL, COL at MIN

Sunday - Jets at Blackhawks, 4 p.m. (WGN)

The week concludes as the Hawks host Winnipeg with a chance to add further distances between the two teams in the standings. The Jets have been trending downwards after a solid start to the season and currently sit sixth in the Central with a 11-12-2 record. Only two teams -- Anaheim and Calgary -- have worse goal differentials than Winnipeg's minus-13 mark through the first portion of the season. So unless the Hawks get stuck dealing with another ridiculous Michael Hutchinson performance, they should feel confident heading into this one.

IceHogs: Rockford visits San Antonio Rampage, 4 p.m.

Central Division: Idle