The Chicago Blackhawks found out Friday what their Stanley Cup championship defense will look like as the NHL released the schedule for the 2013-14 season.
The slate, which includes a break from February 9th-26th for the Winter Olympics in Russia, will feature at least one home and one away game against every team in the league under the new NHL realignment agreed to last winter.
The Hawks will open the regular season with a home date against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 1, when they will raise their fifth championship banner to the rafters of the United Center.
In addition to that game, which will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network, there are five other contests on the slate that should stand out to Hawks fans (the full schedule can be found here):
Jan. 19, 2014 vs. Boston Bruins
The Hawks will face off against their 2013 Stanley Cup Final opponents for the first time at the UC. They will travel to Beantown on March 27th as the playoff race reaches fever pitch, but this battle in Chicago should be an instant classic.
Feb. 3, 2014 at Los Angeles Kings
The Hawks will play the Kings twice in Chicago at the United Center, but as the league heads toward the Olympic break, this road test will give Hawks fans a good look at what the team is made of.
March 1, 2014 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Obviously, the outdoor game on the slate, set to be played at Soldier Field, is a big one. Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby have never played in the same game against one another, so to do so on this kind of stage would be a momentous occasion.
March 16, 2014 vs. Detroit Red Wings
The Hawks will host the Wings only once in the new season because of realignment, so expect plenty of fireworks in the second and final regular season battle between the two clubs.
April 6 vs. St Louis Blues
This game, occurring late in the regular season, marks the final time that these two Central Division rivals will play. It could go a long way to determining who will take down the divisional title, as both teams figure to be prime contenders.