Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Reasons Why They Won't Play for the Stanley Cup
After winning the Stanley Cup a few seasons ago, the Blackhawks came so close to making another Stanley Cup final this past season. They aren't far away from being back again for the 2011-2012 season.
The Hawks are talented enough to make another Cup final. Will they? Probably not.
They have missing pieces compared to the magical run they had during the 2009-2010 season. Here are my five reasons why they won't play for the Cup this season.
The Hawks don't have the same caliber of defense they had back when they won the Cup. It's good. But not good enough.
The Hawks arguably have one of the best first-line defenses in the entire NHL with Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. But who's behind that?
Nick Leddy is one of their most improved defensemen on the entire team and Niklas Hjalmarsson is good. The other lines don't compare to the Stanley Cup championship team.
Sean O'Donnell gets burned way too easily and Steve Montador is mediocre at best. Don't even get me started on Big John Scott.
Plain and simple, if they want to win the Cup again they need to be play as a better unit.
No Big Man
The biggest reason is the Blackhawks lack a big man. When they won in the summer of 2010, Dustin Byfuglien was a big body in front of the net that gave goalies and defensemen alike a hard time.
Now, the Hawks lack a body that can stand in front of the net. Someone who can read angles and react fast.
John Scott can be that body, if he learns to react and skate better. Right now he looks like someone the Hawks picked up off the street and put him on the ice. He skates like the big buffoon he is.
If the Hawks fill this void and nothing else, it is possible they can still win the conference.
Corey Crawford is no Antti Niemi. For the Hawks in 2009-2010 Niemi had a 2.25 goals against average while winning 26 games. This something I don't think Crawford is capable of.
Crawford never really lost games by giving up high scores. Emery and Crawford have both had their fair share of five or more goals in games. That is something a Stanley Cup goalie can't afford to do.
This season Crawford is 9-6-2. His goals against average is 2.74. He needs to improve and improve fast if they want to win in the playoffs this season.
If the Hawks are looking to win, they need to improve their specialty teams.
Right now the Hawks' power-play percentage is 16th in the NHL at 16.5 percent. They need to increase that by at least 10 percent.
On the penalty kill, the Hawks are even worse.
They rank 29th in the league in penalty-kill percentage as it stands at 73.4. The only team behind them is Columbus, which has won five games this season.
The top teams in the league have killed off almost 95 percent of all times they have been shorthanded. Something the Hawks lack and cannot do.
In the past three games, the Hawks have gotten outscored 15 goals to their lonely four. 15-4!!!
If the Hawks are looking to make deep runs into the playoffs, they need to play more consistent. They can't lose games 9-2 like they did in Edmonton.
Before the three-game skid they find themselves on, the Hawks won four games in a row, outscoring opponents 21-8.
That is the kind of hockey they need to play to make a deep run. If the Hawks make these changes and fix these problems, watch out. The Hawks could make a run and run away with the conference and even the entire league. They're good enough to do it.