December was a kind month for the Chicago Blackhawks, but January will be much more of a challenge, and every game is important for the West's top team.
There are 13 games on Chicago's January schedule—five games are against division opponents, nine opponents are Western Conference foes, and 11 of the 13 opponents have a record over .500.
Fortunately, the Hawks host nine of the 13 January contests at the Madhouse on Madison before a busy month of February that begins with an 18-day road-trip. The last time the Blackhawks went on an extended road-trip was the dreaded Circus Trip back in mid-November when the team collected six points out of a possible 12.
Every member on the Blackhawks is going to need to take it easy on New Year's Eve and avoid any sort of hangover, because Joel Quenneville is going to need all of his guys' freshest legs for the month of January, and the team's first game is against the young, but talented, Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 2.