When the Chicago Blackhawks kick off the season on October 1st they will be raising Stanley Cup banner #5 to the rafters, and they will be starting the season as the defending Stanley Cup champions. No Cup champion has repeated since the Detroit Red Wings did it last in the 1997 and 1998 playoffs. Stan Bowman did a great job keeping his core and his defense in tact during the offseason which gives hope that the best team in hockey in 2013 can make a run at repeating in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. We have already looked at 5 reasons why the Hawks can repeat, but let’s look at 5 potential stumbling blocks that could hinder the Blackhawks path in 2014.
5. The Power Play- The power play has been an eye sore for almost three seasons now with the Blackhawks, and it has to be the biggest head scratcher of all-time with all the offensive talent that wear the Blackhawks jersey. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa are huge offensive talents yet the powerplay has not been the same since the 2010 playoffs and the departure of Dusting Byfuglien.
The Blackhawks have a huge stumbling block if they continue to go by the notion that they can continue to win without a good powerplay. Let’s take a quick look back to just one example the Finals against the Boston Bruins. The Blackhawks only scored one powerplay goal the entire series which was Patrick Sharp‘s goal in Game #4 to temporarily put the Hawks ahead 5-4 in the third period. Yes, the Blackhawks pulled that game out in overtime and magically pulled out Game #6 with the greatest 17 seconds in the history of the franchise, but what if those 17 seconds don’t happen and the Hawks and Bruins head back to the United Center for a Game #7? If the Hawks hadn’t won the series the two biggest reasons that people would still be talking about today would be Corey Crawford‘s glove hand and the pathetic powerplay.
The powerplay doesn’t have to score goals every time the unit is on the ice, but it needs to keep the pressure on the opponent instead of an attack that lacks purpose on most nights and doesn’t get the job done. In 2013 the Blackhawks ranked 19th with the man advantage scoring 25 goals on 151 chances for a 16.6% effectiveness which means teams like the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers were light years ahead of us with someone in the box for 2 minutes.
Don’t get complacent! Fix the powerplay or someday somewhere it will come back to haunt us. We survived 2013 let’s not make it a stumbling block heading to the 2014 playoffs.