The Hawks are a day away from opening the season. With the season being so close to reality, now is the perfect time to examine five keys to the Hawks schedule.
- The tough road begins
There were no favors done to the Hawks at the beginning of the season. The Hawks will start with two games on the road in Los Angeles and Phoenix. 10 of the first 12 games are on the road because of the United Center being filled. The Hawks will have to be better than they were on the last long road trip which took part of their disastrous 9 game losing streak. A 4 or 5 game losing streak on this tough road trip will mean the end of the playoffs before the season reaches the quarter pole.
- Seven game homestand
After the Hawks are done with 10 of 12 on the road, they will come home to a seven game homestand that will take them to the end of February. The Hawks need to find a way to get 7 wins in their first 12 games and then they can try to rack up the points at home during the second half of February. The Hawks will need 5 wins on the homestand if they are around .500 when they end their monster road trip.
- Road warriors
The Hawks will have three big road trips in the season. In March they have a four game road trip which is part of five of six on the road. That will be a huge test to the Hawks as it will come at the midpoint of the season. The Hawks also end the season with three of four on the road. The Hawks will have a big road trip in each month of the season and how they handle it will be the defining point of their season.
- Quirks of a lockout schedule
The lockout brought a lot of quirks to the whole league. The Hawks were not immune to the quirks of the schedule. In February the Hawks will play three games against the Sharks in a span of 17 days. However that’s not the only quirk as the Hawks play the Avalanche three times in 12 days. The final quirk in the schedule is when the Hawks play the Predators three times in 6 days and four times in 18 days. For the Hawks the games against the Predators mean the most as they are potential four point games at the end of the season.
- Division games in April
The Hawks will face a lot of games against divisional foes in April. Starting with March 31 the Hawks play a stretch of five in a row against divisional opponents. If you look further into the schedule the string of games is eight of eleven against divisional foes. All eight of these games are against Nashville, Detroit and St. Louis. The divisional race will most likely be decided in April and divisional games are four point games which makes every game crucial. If the Hawks can avoid that big losing streak early they will be fighting for a playoff spot in April against teams in their division.