Because of the ridiculous NHL schedule, the Rangers will play reigning Stanley Cup champion and fellow Original Six side Chicago Blackhawks just once this season. Luckily for us, it will be at MSG - the first time the Hawks have made the visit since the Ranger home opener in 2008.
Familiar Foes: While a significant portion of the Cup-winning team has moved on (mostly to Atlanta), the stars that shined the brightest will still be there - Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Seabrook, Keith and Super Nintendo Hjalmers. Yeah, that's about it. A young, smart, strong core of home-grown players augmented with a few mercenaries to build a Cup winner ... basically the exact opposite of the Rangers over the last dozen years.
N00bz: Well, he isn't a n00b to us but Huge Mistake Hugh Jessiman may very well crack the Chicago lineup this season. The Hawks added him while bargain basement trolling to get a full roster that would fit under the salary cap. With Ben Eager gone, the Hawks brought in the Boogyman's big backup in Minnesota, John Scott. Fernando 'Colitis' Pisani and speedy Viktor Stahlberg were also brought in but the real free agent addition we need to watch out for is Marty Turco. Turco, who hates Sean Avery as much as anyone, came dirt cheap and will be out to prove that he is still a capable starting goaltender.
Last Year: Wednesday, December 9th, 2-1 overtime loss.
This Year: Monday, November 1st at the Garden.
What They Mean To Blue: A guaranteed sell-out and a decent test on the ice. Defeating Chicago could be a good confidence booster, even if they are sure to be suffering from a bad case of Stanley Cup hangover.