The scouting report on the Blackhawks, even before the 2010 Stanley Cup run, says to beat them up, get physical with them—aggressive forechecking,etc. Some in the league equate that with being a “finesse” team.
After the Chicago Blackhawks lost in the first round of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the team was at a crossroads. Two seasons removed from a Stanley Cup win, the team could not wait to start the season but they had to wait four months before the lockout ended.
Once the lockout ended, the team hit the ground running.
The team had to be motivated when they watched the Los Angeles Kings raised their own Stanley Cup banner in the season opener. They sure played like it. The defending Stanley Cup Champions were dominated by a team that had a serious chip on their shoulder.
From the season opener to game six of the Stanley Cup Final, the team played like the best team on the ice. The season started out with a record-setting points streak. During the points streak, the team was the lead story on ESPN’s Sportscenter. The team picked up the following awards this season: The President’s Trophy, the Jennings Trophy,Selke Trophy, The Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, the Conn Smythe, to go along with the Stanley Cup. That’s a nice haul.
The Blackhawks faced adversity when they dug themselves out of a 3-1 hole against the Detroit Red Wings. The Detroit series was a turning point in the team’s playoff run.
The doubts surrounding goaltender Corey Crawford have grown awfully quiet over the past week. All season, Crawford was often criticized by the fan base for the types of goals he gives up. The Blackhawks would not be the Stanley Cup Champions right now if it wasn’t for the heroics of Crawford.
Patrick Kane returned to superstar form this season after his commitment to hockey was questioned after yet another drunken bar incident. Kane came up with timely goals during the season. Expect him to one of the leading candidates for the league’s MVP award next season.
The Blackhawks showed a propensity to play any style to match up with the opponent. The two things that separates the Blackhawks from most teams in the NHL is team speed and depth. The team often outskates their opponent. The more they have the puck, the more opportunities there are to score goals. Also, the team rolls four lines. The depth along with team speed are the reasons they hoisted the Stanley Cup last week.
The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the second time in four years. This time around, there won’t be a dismantling of the team. Well, there was a small dismantling with the trades of Michael Frolik and Dave Bolland. It seems like Ray Emery, Viktor Stalberg and Michal Handzus might not be back but the Madison Street Hockey Club is primed to contend for years to come. Expect to key members of the Rockford Ice Hogs to join the team next season.
The core players on the Blackhawks can match the skill of any of the NHL’s elite teams. Expect the Stanley Cup to take up roots in the Windy City.