Chicago Blackhawks Accomplish Preseason Goal of Making NHL Playoffs

Jake KarmelCorrespondent IIApril 12, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 03: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks (R) celebrates with teammates including Patrick Kane #88 after scoring a second period goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators on April 3, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In case you have been living under a rock for the past NHL season, you know the goal of this year's Blackhawks team was to make the playoffs. Goal accomplished.

The Hawks have made the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 campaign, where the St. Louis Blues beat the Hawks four games to one. This team is much better than the 2002 Blackhawks.

This team is faster, stronger, and more agile, but the Achilles heel is still the goaltending. In 2002, the goaltending was better with Jocelyn Thibault than with Cristobal Huet.

The improvement over the goal tending this year is the fact the Hawks have two outstanding goaltenders in Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin.

The first line of the 2002 Hawks was Doug Gilmore, Tony Amonte, and Probert. Amonte, the captain, was the best player on the line, while Probert, who was added late in the year, and Gilmore were just OK in my opinion.

The first line of the 2008-2009 Hawks is Toews, Kane, and the third guy switches between Sharp and Havlat. A much better line.

Toews and Kane are much younger and much faster. Sharp and Havlat both have a better shot than Gilmore and Probert.

This year's team is poised to make a huge run in the playoffs thanks to the play of the two young guns.

My prediction is no 4-1 loss for the 2008-2009 Hawks like in the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs. This year's playoffs will be an exciting finish for the Hawks.

I am predicting the Hawks will beat the Flames in the first round and make it to the Conference Finals. No Stanley Cup for the Hawks this year. Stay tuned for next year's run.