As we sit around and wait for tomorrow night’s draft, when assuredly something will move off the Hawks’ roster and possibly on but something will actually happen, the NHL released its schedule today. There’s a couple quirks in it for the Hawks.
The first thing that jumps out is that there doesn’t appear to be an Ice Show trip in late January/early February as we’re accustomed to seeing. There’s a four-game trip from January 26th-February 6th that goes to Raleigh, Denver, Glendale, and Dallas but it’s broken up by the All-Star Break. So really it’s just a three-game trip. And that’s it. Normally, around that time the Hawks take a six or even seven-game sojourn, so you’d have to call that a break.
So other than the normal Circus Trip in November–which takes back its normal form with the Black Wednesday game in San Jose as it should always be– the Hawks won’t face more than four consecutive games on the road.
For the second straight year, the Hawks won’t have a packed October. That’s been an issue before, where two years ago they played 13 games in October and I think in 2010-11 they were somewhere around 14. Next season it’s only 11 after 10 this past October.
-While there are no eight-game homestands like last season (Thank God), the Hawks have four four-game homestands, one in October, one in December, one in January, and one in February.
-Just in case things get a little hairy at the end and the changes don’t bed in well for the Hawks leaving them scrambling for a playoff spot, the end of the season is pretty kind. There are only five games, three at home including the Coyotes and Bruins who figure to be bad and middling, respectively. They’ll close with a home date with the Blues and then end in Columbus, who will likely be scrapping for a playoff spot themselves.
-The Hawks only have 10 back-to-backs this year, which is down from previous years pretty significantly, and none in February. That is definitely a break.
-The real crush of the schedule is from Dec. 1 to the All-Star Break on Jan. 26, where the Hawks will play 29 games in 57 days, but again, light on the back-to-backs.
-The only home-and-home doubles the Hawks have are against the Islanders and Penguins. You sort that one out.
-The Stadium Game vs. the Wild is on Feb. 21st, and the Hawks get three days off before and after it.
All in all, you’d have to say the NHL has done the Hawks some favors here with only one extended road trip, cutting the back-to-backs almost in half from previous years.