Blog Entry

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

Posted on: October 6, 2011 12:25 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 12:57 am
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By Brian Stubits

Last season there was a hangover in Chicago. Champagne-induced ones are the worst. That's a big reason why the Blackhawks had to fight at season's end to earn the West's final playoff spot.

But like a regular ol' college student, a day after being bed-ridden it's time to party again. That's my forecast for this season's Stanley Cup: a return to the Madhouse on Madison.

By now everybody has heard enough about the salary cap trouble Chicago found itself in. Former GM Dale Tallon gets a lot of credit for building a Stanley Cup winner, but when he was forced out of town, there was more than a parade to clean up after. For that, current GM Stan Bowman deserves a lot of credit.

Chicago was so crippled by their cap crunch that they lost a few key players to their championship like Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Antti Niemi and Kris Versteeg. But the core remained, and now Bowman has reshuffled the cards to stack the deck around said core again.

2011-12 NHL Season Preview

Welcome into the fold Andrew Brunette, Dan Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Steve Montador and Sean O'Donnell to the existing group that includes two of the best young players in the game of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, it's a solid group that also now has a true grinder line. Add the apparent solution to the goal riddle with Corey Crawford and you can see why optimism is back in the Windy City.

Three reasons to like the Blackhawks:

1. Skill: There are three players on this team that topped the 70-point mark last season. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp are each capable of doing it again. Marian Hossa is right there with them. If second-round draft pick Brandon Saad really is as good as he showed this preseason as he earned a spot on Chicago's TOP line, then it's an unexpected lethal addition.

2. Defense: Oh yeah, the group on the blue line has some skill, too. There's a past Norris Trophy winner who will be in the conversation again this season in Duncan Keith. He's a horse for Chicago. Last season he played more minutes than any skater in hockey. He is teamed up with another outstanding and young defenseman in Brent Seabrook. The belief is that they don't have to rely on those two as uch this season as the corps got deeper, adding Montador and O'Donnell to round out a rock solid group that also includes Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy. But the big key is Crawford. He was very impressive in his first full season and with a group like that in front of him, can continue to look stellar.

3. Chemistry: I'm not a massive believer in the intangibles in sports, but you can't deny its impact, especially among linemates. This group in Chicago doesn't seem to have any personality problems on the horizon as it is a close-knit group. "We've had that chemistry right from Day 1 -- no question about it," the veteran Sharp said on Wednesday. "When you bring in veteran players who have had success all across the league on different teams it seems like there's one excitement in the room." Let me put it this way; good chemistry can't hurt matters. Also under intangibles: They have been there before.

Photo: Getty Images

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Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 4:49 pm
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Since: Jul 8, 2011
Posted on: October 8, 2011 9:51 pm
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

Time to start thinking about the Wild.  Heatley, Koivu and Setoguchi are sick!!!



Since: Nov 6, 2009
Posted on: October 7, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

@Bad

"The Rangers?  Do you even watch hockey?

Sorry the Canucks barely got by the Hawks last year, and it will be the only time in four years (including this year) that they will be able to.  Bruins will not repeat, Caps...please, they are the East's version of the Sharks...speaking of which the Sharks?  They are the Wests version of the Caps.  Lightning was a one hit wonder in the playoffs much like Tampa a number of years back...excapt they didn't win the  cup."

Yeah, the Rangers, Caps and Sharks won't improve at all despite making major moves addressing key weaknesses on their respective teams but naturally the Blackhawks will be much better now that they've replaced Brian Campbell with Steve Montador and signed Andrew Brunette.



Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: October 7, 2011 11:42 am
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

@Hockeybob

I just think that Brian Campbell went from being one of the more overrated players in the NHL (before his big contract) to being the most underrated player in the league as everyone now obsesses over his salary and just looks at his declining point totals, not taking into account that he's been playing behind two of the best all-around defensemen in the league.  The way people write him off, you'd think he was Wade Redden or Jeff Finger, rather than a very important piece to the 2010 Cup winner. 
I agree for the most part.   He was overpaid for a number of reasons but maybe only by 1.5-2 mil imo.    Once Leddy emerged, he lost more value.   Had he been in a position to contribute on the pp regularly, his points and pay would have been more justified and the critics of him would have had more tempered comments about his play.    His loss will be felt plenty this year, and there's no telling how much better he may have made Hjalmarsson look, but I do like how Hjalmarsson makes decisions.    I think if Campbell was able to get more shots off, his loss would have been  a little more painful.    I do think the Hawks are deeper at defense and better able to handle injuries, but I don't know if the defense is actually better in the sense that they're more likely to win a cup this year.

We'll find out soon enough.



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 10:11 pm
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

Lightning was a one hit wonder in the playoffs much like Tampa a number of years back...excapt they didn't win the  cup. 
That should have read ---like Anaheim a number of years back...except they didn't win the cup. ---



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 10:09 pm
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

 I would pick the Bruins, Caps, Kings, Sharks, Canucks, Sabres and Lightning over the Hawks.  Would throw the Pens in there if Crosby is healthy, and maybe even the Rangers if Richards and Gaborik can really click and Staal is good to go.   
The Rangers?  Do you even watch hockey?

Sorry the Canucks barely got by the Hawks last year, and it will be the only time in four years (including this year) that they will be able to.  Bruins will not repeat, Caps...please, they are the East's version of the Sharks...speaking of which the Sharks?  They are the Wests version of the Caps.  Lightning was a one hit wonder in the playoffs much like Tampa a number of years back...excapt they didn't win the  cup. 



Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 9:56 pm
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

hockeybob your analysis always is a welcome read. You make a valid point about Big Buff and the only footnote I would add though is that Big Buff did have value which doesn't show up on stat sheets as he was a wide body and once in front of the net, tough to move and a pest. His stat sheet will never post huge numbers but he's kinda like John Kuhn playing for the Packers. He's got a nose for the end zone in close, a crowd favorite and a player the other team had to pay attention too, just ask the 'Nucs.
Great post, informative and it looks like the Flyers are just about to finish off the champ Bruins, let's play some hockey. Go Hawks. 



Since: Jun 16, 2007
Posted on: October 6, 2011 9:27 pm
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

Campbells major value was always speed out of your own zone and turning Defense into Offense in a hearbeat, He still is one of the best Defenseman at getting the puck out of your own zone in a hurry which is invaluable on the power play and penalty killing units which is where he will be most missed. As for digging in the corners and straight up defense he has more than been replaced for now and with the cap savings, makes it a no brainer. Nobody knows the chemistry yet , but the team is in much bettr shape than last year with alot of young talent for the future, so let the games begin. Kudos to Hockey Bob , should be a great year for the Hawks, Can't wait.



Since: Nov 6, 2009
Posted on: October 6, 2011 7:18 pm
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

@Hockeybob

I just think that Brian Campbell went from being one of the more overrated players in the NHL (before his big contract) to being the most underrated player in the league as everyone now obsesses over his salary and just looks at his declining point totals, not taking into account that he's been playing behind two of the best all-around defensemen in the league.  The way people write him off, you'd think he was Wade Redden or Jeff Finger, rather than a very important piece to the 2010 Cup winner. 



Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:46 pm
 

Blackhawks will rebound and lift the Cup again

The only problem with the Campbell loss is the experience.   Leddy's skill set and willingness to take the body (I said take it, not take it well) is just a good as Campbell's, the problem is experience comparing the two, which is obviously huge, however, 4-7 d-men in 2010 were a rookie in Hjalmarsson, a rookie in Hendry, a waiver claim in Boynton, and a beat to hell taped together Sopel.   Barker was a bust by that point and that's why he was traded (thank you Fletcher for remembering the #3 overall pick version and not the actual player) 

This year 3-7 for 2012 are Leddy, Hjalmarsson, Montador, O'Donnell, and Lepisto with a #1 pick in Olsen progressing in Rockford.    Campbell will be tough to replace in some areas, but he was underutilized in Chicago.   The blueline is much deeper this year than any year from the lockout.    Keith is a much better skater than Campbell when it counts, and the players voted him as the 4th best last season.

The only losses that were extremely difficult to replace from 2010 forwards have been Madden as a 2nd center and Ladd as a big "jack of all trades" type.   Byfuglien, Versteeg, Fraser, Kopecky, Eager, Hendry, Burish, Brouwer were never going to be more than complimentary players in the Hawks' system under Quenneville, they had too many limitations and were very replacable, and don't get me started on Byfuglien's value in Chicago, most overrated Blackhawk in 15 years who was easily shut down by the good "shut-down" type d-men. 

Hawks have plenty of potential problem areas, but their problems are fewer and smaller than just about everybody else's in the West right now with the exception of Vancouver.    This team may not be a better "team" in terms of ability to finish a cup run, but they are a more talented team than the 2010 team in terms of skill 1-30 (you always need about 30 throughout the year).    This team is much better than last years and shouldn't experience the problems they had to begin last season through 40 games.   Expect to hear Leddy's name for a long time too, he's not Campbell yet, but I think he's closer than most of the analysts have given him credit for.   





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