The Chicago Blackhawks are looking like a lock to win the Stanley Cup. Even so, they still have some serious questions that will need to be answered this year.
The Chicago Blackhawks have had numerous opportunities to salute the crowd at the United Center this season. And, with they way they have been playing to start the 2013 campaign, you can certainly expect there will be a lot more.
Every player has committed themselves to their role and every player has been playing well. The team has been able to roll all four lines up front and all three pairs down back. This is one of the biggest reasons why the team has had success.
Even with all the victories, there are still some issues that the team needs to figure out.
Here are five burning questions the Chicago Blackhawks must answer in the 2013 season.
It seems as if the answer to that question is yes. For now anyways.
This 2013 season, Patrick Kane has scored at a torrid pace. It seems he is trying to prove something. Perhaps that he is a superstar player in the NHL?
Through 16 games, Kane has scored nine goals and has added 13 assists.
He is playing confidently and having fun. Kane is at his best when he plays with a bit of a cocky attitude.
If Kane can manage to keep up this pace it is not out of the question for him to win the scoring race. Maybe the Hart Trophy even?
Whatever happens at season's end, Kane has become a true force in the NHL. Finally on track to be cemented as a superstar.
Just as Patrick Kane had a lot to prove coming into the 2013 season, so to did Corey Crawford. Perhaps even more.
So far, he has done a good job.
Crawford has improved immensely since last season and has been a strong contributing factor to the Blackhawks record.
The team possesses one of the best top-six defensive corps in the entire league. Having guys like Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith play in front of you certainly helps, but Crawford has been able to come through when needed.
He has a 1.65 goals against average, which is good enough for sixth in the league. His save percentage sits at .935, which is good enough for seventh. Those statistics are not bad at all and definitely show an improvement over last season.
When Crawford comes back from his injury he needs to be able to continue his strong play. If he can do that, then the Blackhawks may just have a top-notch goaltender in the blue ice.
Based on the players the Blackhawks have on their roster, the team should be one of the best teams on the power play.
However, that is not the case.
Converting on almost 20 percent of your chances on the power play is not bad by any stretch, but the Blackhawks do have some room to improve.
They can move the puck really well once they gain the zone but sometimes have trouble doing just that. They need to keep their breakout and entry into the zone simple. Once they can master that then the puck movement, and the chances, can commence.
They have guys at the point in Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp who can all shoot the puck. They have guys who can play low and move the puck with great touch. With Andrew Shaw still learning how to play in front of the net you can only hope the power play will improve.
The team will need to make sure they keep their play on the power play consistent. If they can manage to keep their power play around 20 percent, they will be fine.
But, the Blackhawks do have the capability to be much more dangerous than that.
No one ever doubted the offensive ability that Dave Bolland possess. He has second line skill.
Why it took so long for the Blackhawks to move him into the second line center spot is still a question waiting to be answered.
But, is Bolland the answer for that spot on the team's roster?
With Marcus Kruger playing well, it seems like the right move. It means the Blackhawks do not have to spend money on bringing in another player and Bolland can play a more offensive game.
Playing with Sharp and Kane means Bolland can also be a steady defensive presence on the line—allowing him to blend his offensive and defensive talents together.
Kruger has grown into the third line position and his play, and the play of his line in general, has been solid.
Bolland is the right choice for the second line spot, and if Kruger continues to play well behind him, then expect Bolland to stay put.
When Marian Hossa plays his game, he is a force out on the ice. There is no denying that.
There is no one on the Blackhawks who can protect a puck like he can. No one on the Blackhawks as strong with the puck as he is. Hossa is a clutch performer and plays a complete game.
However, do the Blackhawks want to commit themselves into such a long contract now that Hossa has gone through concussion problems?
This is a question they will have to consider as the season progresses.
After Hossa went down last night in the game against the Vancouver Canucks, you can only hope that it does not lead to another concussion. If it does, it makes the argument stronger for the Blackhawks to part ways with Hossa through a buyout.
It will be interesting to see because Hossa is one of their top players and one of the top all-around players in the game today.
So far this season he has performed well and proven he is worth the money the Blackhawks are giving him.