5 Reasons the Chicago Blackhawks Are the Stanley Cup Favorites

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIFebruary 25, 2013

5 Reasons the Chicago Blackhawks Are the Stanley Cup Favorites

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    The Chicago Blackhawks have had the best start of all time in the NHL this season.  They have played 18 games without a loss in regulation, the most to start a season ever.

    Not even the most optimistic of Blackhawks fans could have predicted this start.

    This blazing start clearly has the team as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.  The record isn't the only thing that makes them the team to beat.

    Here are five reasons why the Blackhawks are the favorites this year.

1. Impressive Job by Goalies

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    The Blackhawks have to be happy with how well their goalies have been playing this season.  They have only allowed 1.8 goals against this season.  That's the best mark in the NHL.

    While some of that credit certainly goes to the great job by defenders, the goalies get a lot of the attention.  They have a combined save percentage of 93.7, which is second in the league.

    Corey Crawford has been spectacular, as expected.  In his first game in over two weeks, he shutout the Columbus Blue Jackets, recording 28 saves.  He is now at 8-0-3 on the season, allowing only 1.5 goals per game.

    What has been even more impressive is the great play of the backup goalie, Ray Emery.  With the injury to Crawford, Emery stepped up big time, and kept the Blackhawks rolling.  He is 7-0-0 on the year, allowing 2.1 goals per game.

    The goalies have done a tremendous job this year, and are keeping the point streak alive game after game.

2. Penalty-Kill Unit

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    When it comes to killing penalties, the Blackhawks are one of the best.

    The team's penalty-killing percentage is at 89.6.  This is the second highest mark in the league, behind only the Boston Bruins.

    Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik have been two of the biggest reasons the penalty-kill unit has been so successful.  It's apparent when watching that they simply are working harder than anyone else out on the ice during opponents' power-plays.

    That kind of hustle and effort is the reason this team is so good.  They understand that working harder than the other team leads to good things. 

    The penalty-kill unit is meant to keep mistakes to a minimum, and so far they have done just that.

3. Great Season by Patrick Kane

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    Every good team needs an outstanding player, and the Blackhawks have that in Patrick Kane.

    Kane has been sensational for the team.  He leads the team in both goals and assists with nine and 14.  His outstanding play has helped the team get on the board multiple times, and occasionally in clutch situations.

    The 23 points by Kane also put him tied for seventh in the NHL for points.  His plus/minus of nine also puts him in the top 20 in the league. 

    Whenever the Blackhawks have Kane on the ice, good things happen.  This will continue to happen for the rest of the season, and it's a very good sign once the postseason begins.

4. Amazing Supporting Cast

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    Besides Kane, there have been more than a few others who have played great this season.

    Marian Hossa has been a stud after coming back from a concussion last season.  He was on fire to kick off the season, recording four goals and an assist in just the first two games. So far, he has had eight goals and six assists on the year.

    Jonathan Toews has been a great captain for the team.  Despite his age, he has become a true leader for a tremendous squad. 

    The numbers for Toews have been equally as impressive.  His faceoff win percentage of over 60 is one of the best in the league.  He's also recorded 15 points for the team, helping the team succeed in many different ways.

    There are a few others who have played great, but these two have done an excellent job with Kane to create a lot of scoring opportunities for the team.

5. Winning Mentality

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    Breaking a record is nice, but the Blackhawks look determined to keep the point streak going for quite a while longer.

    The team has won five straight games, including two very impressive victories against the San Jose Sharks.  In these last five games, the team has won by a combined score of 14-7.

    It seems that the Blackhawks are actually getting hotter as the season progresses.  The shortened season hasn't appeared to bother the team, as they are still waiting for someone to beat them in regulation.

    Overall, this is the best team in the league, looking at both the record and the numbers.  No one has found a way to beat them in 60 minutes of play, and the Blackhawks intend to keep it that way.