Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane and 4 Players Key to Stanley Cup Run

Antonio BonkalskiContributor IIIOctober 21, 2011

Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane and 4 Players Key to Stanley Cup Run

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    The Chicago Blackhawks finished the 2010-11 season with an upsetting first round playoff loss the the Presidents' Trophy winners in the Vancouver Canucks.

    After winning the Stanley Cup, the team went 44-29-9 and reached the playoffs. This year, they look keep the same plan, but this time make it back to the finals.

    This season, the team has been off to a hot start with a 4-1-1 record and with the solid core they have, they should continue to do so.

    Here are four members of the Hawks that are key for a potential run at the Stanley Cup.

Patrick Kane

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    Patrick Kane seems to be in his best hockey form in his young NHL career. 

    The star forward ties for the teams' lead in points through their first six games. 

    Having two goals and four assists in six games is a very hot start for the right winger/center. If Kane can continue his production, the offense of the Hawks will be hard to stop. 

    Last year, he finished with 73 total points. He can eclipse that this year and be the top player for the Hawks in that department.

    When he notched a career-high 88 points in the 2009-2010 season, it looked like he could only go up. After having a slightly less productive year last year, Kane looks hungry to not only surpass the 73 points of last year, but also the 88 points in their championship season.

    If Kane can maintain his impeccable form for the rest of the season, the Hawks may be able to see themselves back in the Stanley Cup finals.

Jonathan Toews

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    Jonathan Toews is undoubtedly the leader of this Blackhawks team. 

    Toews finished the year on top of the Hawks squad in points with 76 last season. He is off to a slow start, but has been known to turn up the heat later on in the season.

    The talent level that Toews brings to the Blackhawks squad is immense, working as a playmaker with sniper Patrick Sharp on the first line.

    With the combination of leadership and talent, Toews will have to be an impacting player for the Hawks. If he continues to put up points and show up late in the season, the Hawks have a very good chance at returning to the Stanley Cup.

Duncan Keith

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    Last year, the world saw a defense that lacked toughness and defense that the defending Stanley Cup winners showed in their championship season.

    This year, they brought in players like Steve Montador, Daniel Carcillo, and Sean O'Donnell to bring some more toughness for the team.

    This is where Duncan Keith comes in. Keith is the leader on the defensive end of the Blackhawks and will have to make sure that he and his teammates keep their composure while keeping up the toughness.

    The 'Hawks will need Keith to make sure that his defenders are helping goalies Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. 

    The defense of the Hawks is led by Keith and they need to give Crawford assistance while also bringing a level of toughness to play in their uptempo game plan.

    If Keith brings his leadership and skill on the defensive and offensive end, look for a solid 'Hawks squad.

Corey Crawford

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    An obvious contributor to a Stanley Cup team has to be the goalie, and this year it comes down to Corey Crawford.

    Last year, Crawford finished with 33 wins, allowing 2.3 goals per game, according to the NHL

    Crawford is playing impressively well this season, allowing only 1.79 goals per game and winning three of his five starts.

    If he continues his .935 save percentage, then the Blackhawks are in good shape to make a Stanley Cup run. 

    Crawford is a vital piece to this 'Hawks squad. If the defense can aid him and he continues his impressive pace this season, they will likely see themselves in the postseason.