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Record last season: 45-26-11; sixth in the Western Conference
It is really difficult to have a team substantially improve when they won 45 games and finished with 101 points last season, but the Blackhawks are going to win the Western Conference this season, and compete with the New York Rangers for the Presidents' Trophy.
There is no way around the fact that the Hawks have both offensive and defensive depth, as well as a core group of leaders who have already proven that they can win the Stanley Cup. The only issue that has plagued Chicago is the guy in between the pipes.
Corey Crawford has yet to prove that he can carry the troops, even though his 30-17-7 record from a season ago may speak otherwise, but he will respond well to his critics in 2013. He has the ability to be great, and now that GM Stan Bowman may begin his search for another goaltender, Crawford will finally be put under pressure from the front office.
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Viktor Stalberg, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook... there is just too much firepower on the roster for this team not to be at the top of a weakened Western Conference at season's end.
Prediction: 52-22-8 record; first in the Western Conference