Chicago Blackhawks Schedule 2013: 5 Games You Can't Miss

James MaahsContributor IIIJanuary 13, 2013

Chicago Blackhawks Schedule 2013: 5 Games You Can't Miss

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are officially back in action.

    With the NHL lockout officially ending on Saturday night, a 48-game schedule was released on the Blackhawks website.

    The Blackhawks will be on the road 10 out of the first 12 games to kick off the 2013 season. It doesn't get any easier considering that over half of those teams made the playoffs last season.

    A fast start will be necessary for the Blackhawks to keep up with the best in the Western Conference. But with a young core that includes Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, a Norris trophy-winning defenseman in Duncan Keith and a mix of good prospects, the Blackhawks have a chance.

    This season is sure to have high points as well as low points, but what matters is how the team handles the grind.

    These are the five can't-miss games of the 2013 season:

January 19th: Blackhawks Open Up Season Against LA Kings

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    Hockey is back, and the Blackhawks will play in one of the first games on January 19th.

    Every Blackhawks fan should tune in, especially considering the Los Angeles Kings will be raising their Stanley Cup banner that afternoon.

    Fans will get their first chance to watch Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in action after a nine-month layoff. 

    This game will also prove to be a tough test for both teams. The Blackhawks and Kings both rely on a puck-possession game, meaning that this should be a low-scoring affair.

    It might be. The Blackhawks were only able to score four goals in four games against the Kings last season. The Kings were able to put up 10 goals in those same games thanks in part to some sloppy defense and inconsistency on Corey Crawford.

January 27th: First Meeting Against the Detroit Red Wings

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    The Detroit Red Wings may finally release their stranglehold on the Central Division.

    With the loss of defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings will have a tougher time staying with the pack for Central Division dominance. 

    The Blackhawks should jump on this chance right from the start in their first game against the Red Wings at the United Center.

    Time to assert their power over a weaker Central Division and claim the top spot over both the Red Wings and St. Louis Blues.

    This is also a rivalry game, and fans should never miss rivalry games that have over 80 years of history behind them.

February 7th: Raffi Torres Comes Back

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    The Blackhawks will have the pleasure of sparring with the Phoenix Coyotes at the Jobing.com Arena on February 7th.

    Remember Raffi Torres? The player that sent Marian Hossa to the hospital after a hit to the head in last year's playoff run.

    As luck would have it, the Blackhawks will be the first team to welcome Raffi Torres back to the NHL.

    How sweet karma is; the Blackhawks will have a chance to show the Coyotes and Raffi Torres how much they care about Hossa as a teammate.

    Tempers are likely to be very high as the Hossa hit will be in the back of everyone's mind before entering the game.

    Will this game turn into a bloodbath?

    Only time will tell, but expect to see a lot more of Daniel Carcillo and Brandon Bollig on the ice during that game.

February 25th: Defensive Test Against the Edmonton Oilers

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    Remember the Edmonton Oilers?

    The team that was able to make the Blackhawks defense look like a peewee hockey team.

    Yes, the Oilers were able to humiliate the Blackhawks all season long by gliding past Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Not to mention that goaltenders Corey Crawford and Ray Emery had no chance in those games.

    But that was last season, and if the Hawks want to be a better team, they need to show their defensive skills against the young Oilers.

    Luckily for the Hawks, they play the Oilers three times this year later into the season, two of those games at the United Center. The team to win those three games may be the one that is able to endure that hardships of a 48-game season.

    It may also come down to which goaltender is up to the task of shutting down the up-and-coming Oilers offense.

April 27th: Last Game of the Regular Season

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    The Blackhawks' last game of the regular season will come against the St. Louis Blues on the road.

    This game will prove to be a test if the Blackhawks are fighting for playoff contention. Considering how the Blackhawks have made the playoffs the last couple years, this very well may be the case.

    Worse yet, if the Blackhawks are fighting for a playoff spot come the last game, they will have to win against their hated rival, the St. Louis Blues—a game that can turn into a fighting match in a few minutes time depending on what's at stake.

    Regardless, even if the game has little impact on a playoff run, the Blackhawks and Blues are bitter rivals. It will prove to be a heated game regardless of any long-term implications—bragging rights are always a good thing.

     

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