Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews looks to lead the Blackhawks to the Stnaley Cup.
Captain Jonathan Toews looks to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup this season.

A young speedy team who finished 2nd in the tough Central Division, and 4th in the Western Conference, looks to improve upon their Cup ending loss to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals.

During the offseason the Blackhawks received some negative press about ousting general manager Dale Tallon to be replaced by Stan Bowman. Stan, the son of retired NHL coach Scotty Bowman, replaced Tallon due to a filed grievance from the NHL Players Association pertaining to the team missing deadlines for sending qualifying offers to restricted free agents. The team has since moved forward with the off season acquisitions of some pretty big names.

The Blackhawks were unable to resign unrestricted free agent Martin Havlat who eventually signed with the Minnesota Wild. Havlat scored 29 goals with 48 assists to total 77 points. He also posted 15 points in 16 games played in the playoffs last season, which happened to lead the team.

The void is to be replaced by NHL All Star player Marian Hossa who played for the Detroit Red Wings in the previous year. Hossa, who played for the Pittsburg Penguins before the Wings, has made the NHL finals 2 years in a row, yet both times have come up empty handed. Hossa underwent shoulder surgery in the off season and is expected to make his debut you in a Hawk’s jersey in late November. A question of full rehabilitation, game ready physical capability and team chemistry will be answered when he returns to the ice.

Center John Madden joins the mix of the Blackhawks this year. Madden has played for the New Jersey Devils for all his NHL career, posting 297 points in 712 regular season games and 41 points in 112 playoff games.

The Blackhawks have parted ways with goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in hopes that Cristobal Huet will be able to carry the workload. The two goaltenders split time last year during the regular season, only one game difference. However, come playoff time, Khabibulin played all but 3 games. With the success of last year, one would think the possibility of doing the same two goalie system again, or if having to choose between the one, would have chosen to stay with Khabibulin, but that is not the case.

All hope is not lost though as the 34 year old Cristobal Huet has a respectable record and stats. Last season he had a 20-15-4-3 record in 41 games, with a .909 save percentage and a 2.53 goals against average. This number is down in comparison to the ’07-’08 season where he had a combined 32-14-6-4 record between Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals.

The team is led by young stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Together the duo is nearly impossible to stop, all things considering they are only 21 and 20 years of age. Together the two were able to net 59 goals and 80 assists between their 162 games played.

Defensively the team is led by offensive defenseman Brian Campbell. Campbell was 5th in points last year with 52, the majority of them being 45 assists. Shortly behind in points are defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook who both have better +/- ratings then Campbell. Keith tallied in at + 33 while Seabrook with +23.

The Chicago Blackhawks lack no skill in scoring points, and have a solid defensive core that also are able to contribute offensively. The goaltender position will be a test this year, but should not be a factor as the team is projected to be first within the Central Division as last year’s leader the Detroit Red Wings have suffered a major rebuild of new and young players.

Last year’s playoff’s were a learning experience for the young team. This year with one more year under their belt, and the addition of some veteran playoff performers, the Chicago Blackhawks have their eyes set on the Cup.


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