Chicago Blackhawks: What It's Going to Take to Win the Stanley Cup
The Blackhawks are now 3-0 after pulling out a close victory at home last night against the St. Louis Blues, 3-2. With impressive play from Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews, Chicago is beginning to look like the team that won it all in 2010.
It's early in the 48-game schedule, but the Blackhawks could be eyeing their second Stanley Cup in four years. Here are a few factors that could get them back to the Final this season.
The Blackhawks' Explosive Offense
The Chicago Blackhawks' offense has presented nightmares for their opponents this season.
After the Los Angeles Kings finished their pregame Stanley Cup Ceremony and lowered the banner, the Blackhawks took control of the game right away and took a commanding 3-0 lead after the first period. The Blackhawks would go on to spoil the King's home opener by a score of 5-2.
The Blackhawks then traveled to Phoenix on Sunday to take on the Coyotes. Seeking revenge on the Coyotes after being knocked out by them in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, Chicago ended up blasting six goals in on Coyote goaltender, Mike Smith.
Last night, the Blackhawks looked solid again as they took a 3-0 lead early into the third period. The three-goal lead held as they defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-2.
The lethal Chicago offense is currently averaging 4.7 goals per game. The Blackhawks will be in good shape if the scoring spree continues.
Patrick Kane and Company
Every time the Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland line takes the ice, you just assume something good is going to happen.
They are in "kill' mode at all times and are always swarming to the puck in the offensive zone, creating scoring opportunities. This line also creates odd-man advantage situations (which they did to St. Louis multiple times last night) as well as problems for their opponents in the neutral zone.
In three games this season, Patrick Kane already has two goals and three assists. Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland also have a combined total of three goals and three assists for the year.
Consistent Play from Goaltender Corey Crawford
Last season, Crawford played well during the season, but when Chicago faced Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs, he didn't appear to play up to his potential. It was not all Crawford's fault, but there were easy goals that went by him when his team needed him the most.
Crawford has looked solid so far this season, playing lights out against St. Louis last night as he turned down tough shots in the final minutes of the game.
He's only given up two goals in each of his two starts this season, and currently has a save percentage of .927.
If Crawford plays with this type of intensity and continues to be cool in the clutch, this Blackhawks team could become even more dangerous.
Marian Hossa's Comeback
Prior to the beginning of this season, our image of now 34-year-old right winger Marian Hossa was of him being carried off the ice on a stretcher after being knocked unconscious by Phoenix Coyote left winger Raffi Torres in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season.
Hossa is back and looks better than ever after his first three games. The NHL lockout appears to have been beneficial for him as he scored four goals and added an assist in his first two games back.
If Hossa stays healthy in this short 48-game regular season, he is going to play a major role in Chicago's quest for the Stanley Cup.