By Jacob Kornhauser on May 18, 2014
Not since the Detroit Red Wings did it back in the late 1990s has an NHL team won back-to-back Stanley Cups. The Chicago Blackhawks have a very realistic shot of doing that this season for a couple of reasons. They will take on the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals, which will be a grind, and if they're victorious, they will play for the Stanley Cup again. Here are five reasons why the defending champs could win once again.
Since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have joined the Blackhawks, the team has been tied 2-2 in seven different playoff series. The result of each of those series? The Blackhawks have won every single one in six games. That means the Hawks are 14-0 in playoff series after being tied 2-2. Being able to close series out like that is one of many reasons they tend to survive long into the playoffs.
So often in sports we see certain superstars crack under pressure. Hockey is no different in the playoffs, but the Blackhawks' one-two punch of Toews and Kane has been excellent this season and in the playoffs overall throughout their careers. They've already combined for six game-winning goals, including three overtime winners (two by Kane) this postseason. Getting performances like that in crunch time can win you championships.
In the regular season, Corey Crawford is a slightly above average goaltender. However, once the playoffs start, he tends to take his game to a whole other level. In the playoffs, Crawford is borderline elite. He had his struggles in Game 4 in Minnesota in the last series, but came back in Game 6 and helped the Hawks move on by turning in his best performance of the playoffs so far.
Nothing seems to faze the Blackhawks, even when their backs are up against the wall, because they've been in virtually every situation in the playoffs over the past five seasons. They've erased 3-1 and 2-0 playoff deficits. They've won overtime thrillers in the opening rounds and the Stanley Cup. They never count themselves out and with as much talent as they have, that's a dangerous mentality for other teams to run into.
Even though they're the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, things have worked out for the Blackhawks so that they have home-ice advantage for the Western Conference Finals. Should they move through the Kings, they would have home ice against the winner of the Rangers-Canadiens series in the Stanley Cup Finals as well. This team is 6-0 at home during these playoffs, so another team is going to have to win in Chicago for the Hawks not to repeat.
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