Why The Hawks Will Contend. Why They Won’t.
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The yin and the yang.
Within every crisis lies opportunity, and vice versa.
As I write this on Monday January 7, 2013, it’s a new hockey season loaded with possibilities both good and bad. And while that’s true of every NHL hockey team, it’s probably more true of your Chicago Blackhawks.
The big parade for what might have been the best assemblage of young talent on an NHL team since the 1980s was just 30 months ago. But since then, the Hawks have gone one series and out in two straight playoffs.
In the hot crucible of a 48-game season, a team like the Hawks, loaded in the top 6 and top defensive pairing, could be incredibly formidable. Or its questions in net and at depth positions—the likely culprits in last Spring’s whimper and rollover against Phoenix—could make the Hawks’ (yet again) a one series and out team.
So here’s the good scenario, followed by the bad one.
THE HAWKS TAKE THE CUP BECAUSE . . .
1) Everyone is healthy again, especially Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, arguably the team’s two best forwards.
2) Players who showed flashes last year—Viktor Stalberg, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw, and Nick Leddy—all show continued progress and improvement.
3) Dan Carcillo, Shaw and Brandon Bollig stay healthy and out of the penalty box enough to give the Hawks the muscle they have been missing upfront for the past two seasons.
4) Corey Crawford bounces back to his 2010-2011 form—or he is supplanted by a better goalie.
5) GM Stan Bowman deals from his crowded blueline to add some faceoff wins or some goalie help
6) A prospect steps up who can fill some gap. An early candidate: uber-competitive QMJHL standout Philip Danault, who can play C or W, wins faceoffs and can play on either specialty team.
Read and consider each point. If all or most of the above happen, especially number 1, the Hawks are a very, very good team with as good a chance as anyone, and better than most.
THE HAWKS ARE A ONE AND OUT TEAM BECAUSE . . .
1) Hossa and/or Toews have more concussion issues
2) A lack of quality depth, especially at center, remains a huge problem
3) The Hawks’ defense is still too soft
4) There are not enough healthy, physical forwards come playoff time to wear down opposing defensemen
5) Crawford has another spotty (and at times awful) season
6) Bowman tries yet again to force unready rookies (like Brandon Saad) into roles they are not ready for (as he apparently did with Nick Leddy last year), and continues to “prepare financially” for player acquisitions that may never come
If 2 or 3 of the above happen, barring some unforeseen miracle, the Hawks are going to be a disappointing club yet again.
In the meantime, you can continue to check out AHL and junior action, as well as all NHL games when play actually resumes here:
More as I have it.