The Chicago Blackhawks can win the Stanley Cup with average goaltending.
It is widely known that goaltending can be the difference between a first-round exit and a Stanley Cup win. So why can the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup with just average goaltending from Corey Crawford and Ray Emery?
The saying is true, defense wins championships. The Chicago Blackhawks can win the Stanley Cup if their defense is able to play good positional hockey.
Goaltending isn't everything in the game of hockey. It is the responsibility of the defense to clear pucks and help out the goalie every time the puck gets close to the net.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are one of the best top defensive pairings in the NHL. If Keith returns to his Norris Trophy winning form, the Blackhawks don't have to rely on Crawford to make big saves, just average ones.
The puck-possession style of play that the Blackhawks have become accustomed to requires that the defenseman clear the puck out of the crease and their zone. It puts more stress on the defense and less on the goaltender.
Though, as of late, that defensive style of play has been lacking by the Blackhawks.
Duncan Keith has been a plus-13 and Brent Seabrook a plus-16. The top line has been decent but there is room for improvement.
Beyond the first defensive pairing it starts to go downhill. Nick Leddy is a minus-10 and Niklas Hjalmarsson is a plus-five. The third defensive pairing is a toss-up.
What Wins Championships?
The Chicago Blackhawks don't have to rely on goaltending to bail out the defense.
The defense does need some help though, particularly for the third-line defensive pairing. If GM Stan Bowman can pull off a trade for a puck-moving defenseman it will go a long way in helping the Blackhawks make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
There are still defensive holes on the back end that need to be addressed. Some guys are missing their defensive assignments. Some are trying to make up for another teammate's errors. Whatever it might be, the Blackhawks will need help on the back end come the trade deadline.
Corey Crawford and Ray Emery don't need to be spectacular. Just make the basic saves, don't let in the soft ones and let the defense do the job.