By Tyler on April 14, 2014
The 2013-14 NHL regular season is now finished, and the Chicago Blackhawks earned the No. 5 in the Western Conference which means a first-round matchup against the St. Louis Blues. Despite being the lower seeded team in this matchup, there is no doubting that the Blackhawks will enter the series as favorites; and rightfully so. Chicago is the reigning Stanley Cup champions, and they will repeat again in 2014 because of these five reasons.
Chicago ranked 12th in goals allowed per game this season, but they are much more effective than this number. The combination of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook is one of the best in the NHL, as the two are both great puck movers and aren't afraid to get physical. Behind them the likes of Nick Leddy and Niklas Hjalmarsson are both efficient, and Corey Crawford is one of the best goalies in the NHL. In all, Chicago is actually great defensively.
The Blackhawks roster has been together for quite some time, and the team has great leadership in the form of captain Jonathan Toews and assistant captains Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith. Of course these aren't the only leaders in the locker room, and with the guidance of Joel Quenneville on the bench, Chicago will be one of the most well prepared teams in the playoffs. When tough situations arise, look for the Blackhawks to step up.
Chicago ranked second in the NHL in goals per game and 10th in power play efficiency, and their mix of puck movement, willingness to crash the net and pure snipers will be unstoppable in the playoffs. The likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad and Kris Versteeg simply provide too much firepower to stop. No matter what happens this spring, Chicago will put loads of goals on the board.
Chicago has won the Stanley Cup two out of the last four seasons, and the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa and Corey Crawford are a part of a huge nucleus that has been together for the last half decade. This is not only a rarity in the salary cap era, but it ensures the team knows the physical style needed to succeed in the playoffs and that they are willing to fight together to win.
Chicago may not have home-ice advantage at all this spring, but they will surely win while at home because of the crazy atmosphere at the United Center. The Blackhawks have gone 27-7-7 at the so-called Madhouse on Madison this season, and the 20,500 seat arena has been a fortress in recent years. Expect Chicago to gain momentum at home and ride it everywhere they go on the way to becoming back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.
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