The Chicago Blackhawks will go into the upcoming season with a huge target on their back. Of course, any defending Stanley Cup champion does but this defense is a little bit different due to the fact the Blackhawks won it all after a lockout shortened season. In my opinion, what they did during last season along with no training camp and several players who went overseas to stay sharp just in case, prepared them for what came ahead.
Here are 4 reasons why the Blackhawks will repeat as Stanley Cup champions:
Even though Jonathan Toews is the captain and Patrick Kane is the teams flashiest player, the team is not short on experience. Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith have been a steady and calming influence on the team’s younger players. Leadership has come from every facet of the team. I believe that is the main reason why the team can make a run at another Stanley Cup victory. Too much leadership in all the right places.
Coach Joel Quenneville knows how to push all the right buttons. Especially when the team is reeling after being put on the brink of elimination during the Red Wings series. You remember throughout that series how the Henrik Zetterberg line gave Jonathan Toews all he could handle with the physical play? You might remember at the start of game six, right after the face off, Toews made a beeline for the bench and Michal Handzus, a bigger and more physical player, came in and neutralized Detroit’s game. That change made the difference in that series. Up until that point, Coach Q was outcoached by Mike Babcock.
The common theme is all of the playoff series’ last season, was the fact that the Blackhawks were able to wear down their opponents with their depth. The team rolls four lines deep as they say. Remember the 17 seconds we’ve watched on our DVD-R’s all summer? That was the difference in the series against Boston. The first line tied the game and the fourth line scored the game-winning goal. All that says to me is that the Madison Street Hockey Club has a tremendous amount of depth.
The nucleus of the current team has played together since the 2007-2008 season. In the past six years, the core of Toews, Kane, Keith, Sharp and Seabrook have seen it all. Playoff disappointments on up to hoisting the Stanley Cup twice in the past four seasons. The team has seen it all. The experience they’ve gained kicked in during the Detroit series. The team was down 3-1. The team was on the cusp of elimination. We even saw the captain, whose nickname, Captain Serious; say that he is even keel. Even he became unglued in that series. Ultimately, Toews pulled the team and himself of out an adverse situation.
I expect another deep run into the Stanley Cup Final for the Blackhawks this upcoming season. The team has everything to compete with whatever the opponent has to throw at them. To face a defending Stanley Cup champion is one thing but to face a battle-tested one, that’s another.
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