How The West Was Won
While the Stanley Cup is awarded on the ice in June, the heart of your team the will get you there is assembled in the offseason. The Chicago Blackhawks have not only stacked up with key free agents such as Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky to build the heart of their team for that late push toward Lord Stanley's Cup, but, they have retained their bench and that is what makes a team effective come playoff time.
The Pittsburgh Penguins outlasted the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs for a variety of reasons but two reasons really stick out above all the others. First of all, the bench of the Penguins stepped up when the stars were not in the game or were playing below average, for example, when Sidney Crosby got checked gruesomely hard by Johan Franzen and was out the rest of the game, players like Jordan Staal and Max Talbot stepped up big to lift the Penguins to victory. On the other end of the spectrum, when Marian Hossa was non-existent so were top bench players Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Holmstorm. So in the end the 3rd and 4th line players of the Penguins outplayed the 2nd line and even the first line players of the Red Wings and the only other team to notice this was the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks, like Abe Lincoln preserved the team and saved the identity of the team. The Blackhawks preserved Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Brent Sopel while adding veterans Marian Hossa and John Madden along with acquiring Tomas Kopecky.
In the end the team with the most depth and the team that plays within the system all the way through their bench will prevail come to gutcheck time when the Stanley Cup is on the line and the Chicago Blackhawks have put them self in perfect position to hoist that very trophy 11 months from now.
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