Go ahead and put the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks among the NHL’s greatest teams. They definitely deserve such high praise.
Thanks to the Blackhawks’ amazing comeback in the last 90 seconds of Game 6 to oust the Boston Bruins and capture their second Stanley Cup in the last four years, Chicago put the finishing touches on what will go down as one of the greatest seasons in NHL history.
The Blackhawks completed their amazing journey with a final overall record of 52-14-5, an astonishing winning percentage of .767.
This is a team that went 16-7 in the play-offs after posting a sizzling 36-7-5 mark in the regular season, which included a 21-0-3 start (the NHL’s best ever).
No argument can be made against the Blackhawks being the best team the NHL had to offer from start to finish.
Some will say their great season is tainted somewhat because it came in a lockout shortened season, one which prior to the Stanley Cup Finals didn’t pit any Western Conference teams against those from the Eastern Conference.
But the fact is this Blackhawks’ team disposed of the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and arguably the world’s best goalie in Jonathan Quick in five games after rallying from a 3-1 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings and their elite goalie Jimmy Howard. As if that wasn’t enough, Chicago beat the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins, the same team that swept the NHL’s second-best team in the regular season the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-offs, in 6, winning twice on Boston’s home ice.
What has to be very concerning for the rest of the league going forward is knowing the Blackhawks aren’t going to have near the type of overhaul to their roster that they endured following their 2010 title.
Their corps players of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (the 2010 and 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy winners), Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa all return for the 2013-14 season. Plus, Kane is just 24 years old and Toews is 25. Add to that the terrific rookie season 20-year-old Brandon Saad had, the tenacious play of 21-year-old Andrew Shaw and how goalie Corey Crawford was amazing from start to finish this season, and a strong case can be made that the Blackhawks are in the midst of a dynasty.
As if that wasn’t enough to cause opponents sleepless nights, three of the Hawks’ top four defensemen haven’t yet turned 30 – Niklas Hjalmarsson (26), Duncan Keith (29) and Brent Seabrook (28). Remember the Hawks allowed the fewest goals this season.
There will be some off-season business to attend to, however. Bryan Bickell, one of the Blackhawks’ best players in the play-offs, will be an unrestricted free agent next month. Chicago fans will be happy to know the organization’s front office has already said resigning him is perhaps Priority No. 1. Viktor Stalberg will likely be sent packing and so, too, could Dave Bolland as the salary cap lowers this off-season.
Coming close to duplicating this year’s record will be a very tall order for the Hawks next year, but they will be the proverbial favorite to win their third Cup in the last five years.
Without a doubt, talk can now begin of this team repeating, but keep in mind the NHL has not had a repeat champion in more than 15 years (1996 and 1997 Detroit Red Wings).
Not only are the Hawks worthy of repeat talk, though, they might just be on the verge of building quite a dynasty in the Windy City.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.