Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Preview: The Road to the Stanley Cup

Jake KarmelCorrespondent IIApril 16, 2009

CALGARY, CANADA - FEBRUARY 5: Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates against the Calgary Flames on February 5, 2009 at Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

A Chicago Blackhawks playoff game has not happened since 2002. Something of a rarity in Chicago.

The young guns of the West Side are poised to make a run at the Stanley Cup in the coming weeks. Led by Jonathan Toews, Pat Kane, and "The Bulin Wall," the Hawks are a dangerous team in the playoffs.

The Blackhawks, with four wins (6-1, 5-2, 3-2 (OT), 5-2) and zero losses versus the Flames, have had Calgary's number this season. Chicago seems to play well versus Jerome Iginla and the Flames.

The Flames' struggles versus the Hawks are due to the lack of speed by the Flames and young bodies. The Hawks are young, fast, agile, and can score.

Even with the coaching change that occurred at the beginning of the season (from Denis Savard to Joe Quenneville) the Hawks have persevered through it and have come out a much better team.

The Hawks will make a run in the playoffs, but the Stanley Cup will be an elusive goal.

The biggest key to success for the Blackhawks will be the goaltending. Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin need to play well.

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Khabibulin has been playing very well as of late but he must keep this up in the playoffs for the Hawks to advance.  Huet needs to jump on that bandwagon; he will get playing time in the playoffs.

Khabibulin and Huet are not the Stanley Cup answers the Hawks need in goal, however.

Also, the second, third, and fourth strings need to play well. Mediocrity will not cut it. Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg, Marty Havlat, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Samuel Pahlsson, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, and Adam Burrish need to come out to play.  If they do not, the Hawks will have a very tough time winning.

Offensive production will allow the Hawks will beat the Flames in five games and move on to the next round.

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