CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -It is difficult to really argue with those who believe this is basically the same Chicago Blackhawks team as last year and once again will have trouble making a long playoff run. Those that want to believe the root of all bad for the Hawks is goaltender Corey Crawford, go right ahead. No doubt Crawford has to stop letting up soft goals when the game is on the line but there have been other issues as well.
The Blackhawks have been built to score but they have trouble doing so when playing in close checking games. There is cause for concern this club will be hard-pressed to weather injuries and Joel Quenneville may be behind the bench for his final season. So there are reasons to not be so excited about the upcoming campaign and the chance of the Stanley Cup returning to Chicago.
To all of that I say not so fast.
Although it is a trite saying, there is a fine line between winning and losing. Don’t be locked in just yet on all being so dismal. The Hawks still have young players on the roster that shouldn’t be sold short. Some of the veterans could come back this year stronger than ever. Maybe GM Stan Bowman’s confidence in his roster will be justified.
Just imagine if…
New addition Brandon Saad will find a role as top six forward and be a pleasant surprise. Neither Andrew Shaw nor Viktor Stalberg is a flash in the pan. Nick Leddy relishes slightly reduced playing time and finally gets a chance to be an effective power play performer. Dave Bolland will seamlessly step up and become a fine second line center. Daniel Carcillo will learn how to aggravate and stay out of the penalty box. Niklas Hjalmarsson will perform with the same confidence he had a few years ago. The concussion issues for Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews will not resurface. Patrick Kane will be a point per game player. Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell will perform their roles to a tee and become valuable contributors. Duncan Keith’s shooting percentage will be much higher than the dismal 2.5 percent of last season which will lead to power play success. Crawford and Ray Emery will be solid in net and they will not be pointed to as weak links.
As we know, all of the above won’t happen but enough may come about to help the Blackhawks become a much improved team. Who knows, maybe even someone besides Toews will be able to win an important faceoff. So now is the time to look ahead with some optimism as there will be plenty of time to be critical.
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