The 2013 season for the Chicago Blackhawks would have been considered quite a success for at least 25 teams in the NHL. The Blackhawks won 46 games, racked up 107 points and made it to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. All that stood between them and the Stanley Cup Finals was won OT goal from the eventual champion LA Kings. The Blackhawks are at such an elite level however, it’s championship or bust every season which means they’ll come into the 2014 NHL season with something to prove.
The good news is they bring back almost all of the key pieces from last year’s deep playoff run. Most importantly they locked both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews up for the next 8 years with contract extensions ensuring they’ll be competitive for a long time. The Blackhawks did make one major addition in the form of Brad Richards who should help sure up the forward lines after losing some depth there to free agency this offseason.
The bad news is they have two young, upstart teams in their division looking to build on last year’s success. The Avalanche were a worst to first story so it’ll be interesting to see if they can repeat last year’s division championship. The Blues should be the Blackhawks toughest competition however. The two teams squared off in the first round of last year’s playoffs with St. Louis winning the first two games. A questionable hit knocked the Blues’best player, David Backes, out for the rest of the series. The Blackhawks won the next four so I think it’s safe to say the Blues might be looking to even the score.
The Blues aren’t the only team who’ll bring their A game when they travel to Chicago. If you want Chicago Blackhawks ticket, here are a few games that should be on your short list.
October 28th vs. the Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks finished last season with the most points in the Western Conference and lost out on the Presidents’Trophy by one point to Boston. They lost in seven games to the LA Kings and will be looking to make an early statement against another power of the Western Conference. They also have a dynamic duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to match the firepower of the Blackhawks. The Ducks have also acquired Ryan Kesler this offseason which just adds more firepower to this arms race. These might be the two most skilled teams in the league and they should go at it in this early season clash.
December 3rd vs. the ST. Louis Blues
I’ve already talked about the bad blood between these two teams. Expect a hard hitting game between the young Blues trying to make a statement and the Blackhawks trying to keep their place atop the conference.
February 22nd vs. the Boston Bruins
The East is generally considered to be the weaker division but the Bruins are as good as anyone in the league. This is the only chance Chicago will get to see the Stanley Cup favorite Bruins in action. And watching 6 ft 8 in Zdeno Chara is worth the ticket price alone. This is also a rematch of the 2013 cup finals and could be a preview of 2015.
March 30th vs. the LA Kings
This is going to be the game everyone will be waiting for. After getting knocked out of the playoffs by an Alec Martinez OT goal the Blackhawks will have had 8 months to stew over that loss. These two teams will have played twice already but both times in LA. This will be the first chance the Hawks fans will have to boo the champions and hope for a little bit of revenge. The atmosphere will be electric inside the United Center.