Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Reasons Why They Will Fail to Win the Central Division
The Chicago Blackhawks have been very quiet this offseason.
GM Stan Bowman promised that he would add the missing pieces to a lineup that has a few gaping holes.
But with August rolling around—and the start of a new NHL season drawing nearer—the Blackhawks look like the same team that they were last season.
A young and talented core supplemented by a few veteran players, but a lot of missing pieces that may come to hurt the Hawks as the season progresses.
Will the Blackhawks win the Central Division in this upcoming season?
The answer is no, and these are the five reasons why they will fail at that task.
Lack of a Second Line Center
The gaping hole that is the second line center for the Blackhawks has been a problem even when they hoisted the Stanley Cup.
Marcus Kruger was able to handle the responsibility for much of last season, but even he needs more time to develop.
Bowman was unable to acquire a stable center from free agency, so the Blackhawks are once again heading into the season without a true second line center.
This will be a problem again, as bigger teams down the middle will be able to take advantage of this weak spot.
The St. Louis Blues will give the Blackhawks a tough time considering they are stronger at the center position. Being a Central Division rival this will only hurt the Blackhawks' chances at winning their division.
It's no secret that goaltender Corey Crawford had a shaky year both in the regular season and playoffs.
Many have brushed this shaky season off saying that every goalie goes through a "sophomore" slump.
This may be true to some extent, but just how good can Crawford be for the Blackhawks?
Even if Crawford is able to bounce back from a bad season, will he be able to lead the Blackhawks to a possible division title?
The simple answer is no, Crawford is at best a back-up goalie in the NHL. Yes he has shown signs of greatness but the consistency just isn't there.
St. Louis Blues
If the Blackhawks want to have any shot at winning their division they will have to battle the St. Louis Blues.
A big team that isn't afraid to muscle their weight around on the ice to win hockey games—which is worrying for a small Blackhawks' team.
Make no mistake, the Blues and Blackhawks will be battling all year for top spot in the Central Division. The Detroit Red Wings may be in the mix, but will most likely come up short after the departure of Niklas Lidstrom.
The Nashville Predators will also be less of a factor this season thanks to the departure of Ryan Suter.
The Hawks were 4-2 against the Blues last season, not bad against a team that was considered a favorite to win the Western Conference.
Patrick Kane will be under the microscope this upcoming season.
More is expected from the 23-year-old right winger on both the offensive and defensive fronts.
If Kane can reach his potential, which may very well be a 100 point season, the Blackhawks will have a good chance of winning their division.
But with Kane's numbers dropping off every season since winning the Stanley Cup, will he be able to pick his production back up and give the Blackhawks a return on their investment?
Only time will tell, but if Kane fails to do so he may be on the trading block mid-season.
The Need for Power Play and Depth Scoring
The Blackhawks were a defensively-challenged team last season.
The number of goals they let in were among the highest in the Western Conference and it was their offense that saved them in most games.
But aside from their defense, the Blackhawks need to see a spark in their power play and depth scoring.
Guys like Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik need to get on the board more and be able to produce game in and game out.
Last season the Blackhawks' power play was among the worst in the league, yet they were still able to make the playoffs.
That's not to say that their lack of a power play was a good thing.
More offense from the big guys on the power play would also be a welcomed change to this upcoming season if the Hawks want to have any chance at winning their division.
But with the team pretty much unchanged from last season just how much of a difference can we expect?