By the time the Blackhawks return home from Nashville on Feb. 10, having completed a stretch of playing 10 of their first 12 games on the road, who knows where they will sit in the Western Conference standings?
But that's the hand the Hawks have been dealt because of the Disney on Ice show that will invade the United Center from Jan. 28 through Feb. 10.
"The schedule will be interesting," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "I think every team will be dealing with some stretches where you could be taxed a different way.
"Going back to the (48-game schedule in the) '94-95 season, it's going to be an amazing pace. Depth is going to be the most important thing. If you can play four lines you can utilize everybody and have a strong bench."
The players are taking the positive approach to playing 10 of the first 12 on the road to start of the season.
"There are no excuses," Jonathan Toews said. "You can think it's not going to be a good thing for us, or you can look at it this way: We're going to be spending a lot of time together as a team on the road right off the bat.
"We've got some new teammates in this locker room, so it's a time to really come together early in the season."
It's going to be a grind for every team in the West compared to the Eastern Conference.
"It's going to be tough," Dave Bolland said. "You're going to be playing every second night with no breaks. We have to be ready for what's coming at us. But that's the whole league. We all have that schedule."
The Hawks won't get their first three-day break until March 11. There are 11 sets of back-to-back games.
Some highlights of the 48-game, conference-only schedule:
•Four games against Detroit, including Jan. 27 and April 12 at the United Center.
•Four games with St. Louis, including the Jan. 22 home opener and April 4.
•Only three games with Vancouver, two of them on the road. The Canucks make their only appearance at the UC on Feb. 19.
"It's going to be like a 48-game playoff," Quenneville said.