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Chicago Blackhawks: Five Stumbling Blocks To Avoid On The Path To Repeating

By Keith Schultz
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Jun 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) lays on the ice after being hit by the puck during the first period in game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

1. Injuries

Of course this is something that is out of the players and coaches control to an extent.  One of the reasons for the streak and the playoff run of 2013 is that the Blackhawks remained relatively healthy for the first time since 2010.  The only real injuries were Patrick Sharp separating his shoulder and Marian Hossa being out of the lineup for a short stretch a couple of times.

In 2011 Dave Bolland missed a lot of action, and in 2012 Jonathan Toews missed the last 23 games of the season with a concussion while Marian Hossa missed the last 4 games of the Phoenix Coyotes series after the Raffi Torres hit.

As much as injuries are out of the players and coaches hands, yet it can be lessened by the coaching staff.  One of the biggest secrets to the 2013 Hawks success was rolling all four lines every night.  Two things worked in Coach Q’s favor with them being he didn’t mess with the lines and he assigned and got great performances from bottom 6 guys on the penalty kill.

Yes, Hossa and Toews play on the penalty kill but it was the emergence of Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger that helped with ice time while the third line of Viktor Stalberg, Andrew Shaw, and Bryan Bickell were better than most teams 2nd lines.  These factors helped lesson injuries because everyone was seeing equal ice time and in the end the stars were seeing less time.

Lastly,  Duncan Keith’s regular season ice time needs to be managed.  The staff kind went retro in the playoffs especially in the finals when Nick Leddy was seeing very few minutes while Keith playing at a high level was given the lion’s share of the ice time.  Two things could help during the season, with one of them being that Stan Bowman kept the defense in tact because there is going to be youth on offense so the coaches need to roll all three D units in each game like they rolled all four lines during the regular season.  Secondly, put Nick Leddy on the first unit powerplay and give Keith a break.  Leddy is by far the most offensively skilled D-man on the Hawks and now it’s time to use those skills on a powerplay that has struggled in the past!

What do you think? Are these real stumbling blocks or do you have a stumbling block that was missed? Please let us know in the comment section!

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