Breaking Down Chicago Blackhawks’ Performance at Center in 2013-14
The Chicago Blackhawks lost the decisive Game 7 to the Los Angeles Kings last night, ending their dreams of a Stanley Cup repeat. That feat has not been accomplished since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings. Though this playoff veteran-laden team lost after coming back from a three games to one series deficit, it’s nothing to hang their heads over — especially against the Kings. When it came down to it, the Kings got one more bounce than the Hawks did, and that is just hockey. There was no better way to end the series than an overtime in Game 7; it just didn’t go the Blackhawks’ way.
That being said, the offseason begins today. There were weak points that the Kings exposed. The Kings were the more complete team as all four lines produced for them, both offensively and defensively.
The center position, other than Jonathan Toews, was a mess to say the least. The Hawks were never really able to solidify a second line center at any point in the season. Michael Handzus played the majority of the time in the second line center role, but his age showed throughout the season. Playing with Patrick Kane is a tough thing to do when you’re at the age of 37. The Blackhawks also used Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw and traded for Peter Regin near the deadline. Regin and Handzus are two names that may not be back since their contracts expired this season. Kruger has another year left on his contract, while Shaw is signed through 2016. If the Hawks decide to keep Kruger, they will need to add pieces to the center position.
One potential name already in the Hawks’ system that saw some time towards the end of the season is Tevuo Teräväinen. The Hawks reluctantly selected Teräväinen after he fell to them at pick No. 18 in the 2012 NHL Draft. Teräväinen is a young center with tremendous potential. Teammate Patrick Sharp went as far as comparing him to another Blackhawk in Kane. While Teräväinen did not register any points in three games, he made an impact with his knowledge for the game making smart plays and not turning the puck over. If Teräväinen can continue to work on his faceoffs fans can expect him to play at the start of the season with the Blackhawks in 2015.
One potential name that could come out of free agency could be former Blackhawk and Stanley Cup hero Dave Bolland. Bolland, if you can remember correctly, scored the second goal in a span of seven seconds that sealed the Blackhawks’ 2013 Stanley Cup. Bolland spent this past season with the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs.
This is a solid Blackhawks team that will continue to compete for the Stanley Cup for years to come.
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