2013 Blackhawks and the Stanley Cup
Hawks Two Stars Struggling At Times These Playoffs
2013 Playoffs So Far
First, before we get into the 10 reasons on why I believe the Blackhawks will be in the Stanley Cup Finals we should look at where we are in the current Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The #1 seed Chicago Blackhawks started this playoffs against the #8 seeded Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2013 Playoffs. The Hawks did not play their best in this round but did still manage to win the series in 5 games for a 4-1 series victory. After the series the Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said that he was not very happy with the level that the Hawks competed at. This series could have very well ended up being a sweep for the Chicago Blackhawks considering that the Minnesota starting goalie Nik Backstrom was hurt in warm ups of game 1 and never returned for the rest of the series. The Wild backup Josh Harding came in and did a admirable job against the high powered offense of Chicago but even at what seemed like a half effort of the Hawks, it was to much for Harding and the Wild.
As the Hawks waited for the 2nd round of the Playoffs to get under way Coach Q once again made it known that he thought that the Hawks had another level that they can play at and that he expected them to reach that level in this 2nd round. Certain players were singled out as not giving very good efforts in the last couple of games, the two players that were threatened to be sat for game 1 against the Detroit Redwings was Brandon Saad and Victor Stalberg. Rookie of the year candidate Brandon Saad did find his way into the lineup in time for game 1 but Victor Stalberg was in the stands watching the first couple of games and the message seemed to be sent to him by the time that he made his first appearance in the series.
The Hawks were clear favorites over the #7 seed Detroit Redwings and they looked like the favored team in game 1 with a very controlled game and a 4-1 win on home ice. Then something happened from games 2-4. The mixture of the Redwings playing a very good system that involved being all over Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and sometimes to the point that there was clear penalties that were not called constantly, this apparently frustrated both Toews and the Hawks as they were thrown off of their games and lost games 2-4. The Hawks came back home for game 5 and got back to their winning ways and won with a score of 4-1. Much like game 1, the Hawks controlled much of the game and Toews broke through with a goal that was much needed by the captain and from then on it seemed like it helped get the Hawks game back on track. The Hawks went into Detroit for game 6 and won 4-3 to force a game 7 tonight. With the momentum fully back on the side of the Hawks and the fact that the Hawks are the better team and finally playing like it, I think the Hawks will ride that momentum to a game 7 win in front of a loud and crazy packed Untied Center in Chicago.
Game Time Approaches
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Because It's The Cup
Reasons Hawks Should Advance To The Cup Finals
5. Opponents Not As Deep
When you look at the current opponent in the Redwings, they are not as deep throughout the whole roster with the exception of the goalie position. The Redwings could have easily lost all of their 3 wins if not for the performance of Jimmy Howard. There was only 1 out of the 3 games that the Wings did control the play and outplay the Hawks, All of the other games have seen Jimmy Howard stand on his head or get alot of help from the post. In one of the Hawks losses they hit the post 4 times and also had a goal called back due to a interference call that many NHL broadcasts said was a very bad call.
The potential next opponent in the LA Kings are very slow and not nearly as deep on Defense as the Hawks. The offense is tipped towards the Hawks as there was not a more potent offense all season long although the kings have a very good offense and can score goals for sure. The edge in Goaltending goes to the Kings as Quick is the main reason this Kings team won the Stanley Cup last year and is once again a very big reason they are in this position to be in the Conference finals.
4. Amazing Penalty Kill
The Hawks have had an absolute awesome penalty kill all season long and they have carried that over to the post season play. The Hawks killed over 20 penalties in a row to start the post season before Detroit finally found a way to get a PP goal.
They are not only killing penalties but the Hawks have to potential to get short handed goals as well. Just recently in game 6 the penalty kill produced a goal when Frolik blocked a shot and was off on a breakaway before getting slashed on the hands resulting in a penalty shot that Frolik cashed in on.
3. Much Needed Wake Up Call Received
As stated before the Hawks started out the first round by not playing anywhere near the level that they are capable of or near the level that made them Presidents Trophy winners during the season. The Hawks followed that up by seemingly under estimated the Wings from game 2-4. The Hawks have put their frustrations aside and got back to what makes them successful and the Hawks have looked like the team that was so hard to beat during the regular season.
When the Hawks are playing with confidence they are one of the most deadly teams in the league and their record during the regular season shows this as they only lost 7 times in regulation. Now I know what most would say, the regular season doesn't mean anything when the playoffs come around. I agree with this but if you take what made you so successful during a record setting season and what made you so confident and dominant then you are going to have success in the playoffs as well. This 2013 Chicago Blackhawks is not your ordinary team.
The goalie position was the biggest question mark for the Blackhawks coming into the 2013 season, not only did both Crawford and Emery answer all of those questions but they made it a very hard decision for coach Quenneville to decide who would start the 1st round. This decision was made easier for him once Ray Emery went down with an injury that kept him out all of the 1st round.
Cory Crawford has been very good in the post season so far for these Blackhawks and even when he has given up a bad goal he has bounced back very well and kept his team in the game and giving them chance to win every game. Crawford seems very confident in himself in interviews before and after games this post season and this is a nice change from what Hawks fans saw with him during last years playoffs run or lack there of. I believe Cory can still get even better as these playoffs go on and that is a very good thing for the Hawks should they go forward in these playoffs.
1. Deep Team Depth
This team gets contributions from the lower two lines in big games and that is what any team needs if they are going to go deep into the playoffs. The 3rd and 4th lines have been contributing in a big way for the Hawks so far even when the first 2 lines have had trouble at times scoring. The Hawks can get back to being a real power house if the first 2 scoring lines start to chip in as well as the bottom 2 have.
With these reason I can see the Chicago Blackhawks advancing past the 2nd round tonight and past the Western Conference Finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.