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Top 10 key dates for Blackhawks’ 2018-19 regular-season schedule

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What games should be circled on the calendar for next season?

NHL: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks released their 2017-18 regular-season schedule Thursday, giving fans a look at what the road to returning to the playoffs will look like.

Here are 10 key dates from next season’s schedule:

Oc. 4: Chicago at Ottawa — Opening night

The Hawks open the season on the road against the Ottawa Senators. It’s the first time since 2014 that Chicago has opened its season on the road. The Hawks are 2-1-1 in season openers on the road under coach Joel Quenneville. Chicago went 2-0 against Ottawa last season.

Oct. 7: Toronto at Chicago — Home opener

Three days after opening their season in Ottawa, the Hawks make their return to the United Center by welcoming Toronto. Chicago is 6-2 this decade in home openers. Last season the Hawks dropped both games to the Maple Leafs.

Nov. 21: Chicago at Washington — Visiting the champs

The Washington Capitals are the reigning Stanley Cup champions after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Stanley Cup Final. It’s the first Cup for the Capitals in their 43-year history, and the first among the major four sports for Washington D.C. since its NFL team won Super Bowl XXVI against Buffalo in 1992. The Caps will also have a coach behind the bench after Barry Trotz resigned due to a contract dispute. He’ll be the head coach behind the Islanders’ bench next season. It’s the first of two games for the Hawks against the Capitals, who host Chicago on Jan. 20.

Dec. 12 to Dec. 18 — Longest homestand

The Hawks drop the puck on their longest homestand of the season — only four games — against Pittsburgh on Dec. 12. They’ll also host Winnipeg (Dec. 14), San Jose (Dec. 16) and Nashville (Dec. 18).

Jan. 1: Boston at Chicago — Winter Classic

Hello, old friend. The Hawks are back playing an outdoor game after a one-year hiatus. Chicago will host Boston at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. The Hawks are 1-4 in outdoor games, with their lone win coming in the 2014 Stadium Series against Pittsburgh at Soldier Field. The Bruins are 1-1 outside, with a 2-1 overtime win in the 2010 Winter Classic against Philadelphia at Fenway Park and a 5-1 loss to Montreal at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Jan. 3: Chicago at N.Y. Islanders — Return to Nassau Coliseum

The Hawks will make their return to a renovated Nassau Coliseum, which will host 12 games next season as the Islanders await construction on their new arena. It’ll also be their first game against the Trotz-led Islanders.

Jan. 23 to Jan. 31 — Bye week

The Hawks bye week next season comes at the end of January after hosting the Islanders on Jan. 22. Chicago returns to action with three-game road trip to Buffalo (Feb. 1), Minnesota (Feb. 2) and Edmonton (Feb. 5).

March 7: Buffalo at Chicago — No. 1 pick

The Buffalo Sabres are expected to pick Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft Friday in Dallas. Unlike last year’s top pick of Nico Hischier, Dahlin is projected as a generational-type talent like previous No. 1s Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. It’ll be the first time Dahlin steps on the ice at the United Center.

April 5: Dallas at Chicago — Regular-season home finale

The Hawks play Dallas in their home finale. Hopefully unlike last year, this game will have playoff and not lottery implications to it.

April 6: Chicago at Nashville — Regular-season finale

Chicago wraps up its four-game Central Division swing to end regular-season schedule at Nashville. The Predators captured the Presidents’ Trophy last season, but fell to Winnipeg in six games in the Western Conference semifinals.

Honorable mentions

Oct. 31: Chicago at Vancouver — Hello, old friend

Last season former North Dakota CBS linemates Nick Schmaltz and Brock Boeser played against each other for the first time in the NHL. Schmaltz scored in each game, while Boeser put up a goal and three assists in one contest.

This season there’s a similar situation with former Northeastern linemates Dylan Sikura’s and Adam Gaudette’s turn facing off on Halloween. The two teams also clash Feb. 7 and March 18 in Chicago.

Dec. 14: Winnipeg at Chicago — Scott Foster night

Chicago will host Winnipeg for the first time this season Dec. 14. The last time the Jets were at the United Center, emergency backup goaltender Scott Foster stopped seven shots in 14 minutes of ice time in a 6-2 blowout victory. Don’t be surprised if the Hawks remind the Jets of that legendary performance with a video tribute to the 36-year-old accountant.

April 3: St. Louis at Chicago — Feeling Blue

The Hawks will play three of their first 11 games of the season against rival St. Louis in October. They visit St. Louis for their second game of the season Oct. 6, play them seven days later in Chicago before making the trip back to St. Louis on Oct. 27. The Hawks host the Blues on Nov. 14 and won’t face them again until the third to last game of the season.