Oct 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wingMarian Hossa
(81) is congratulated by his teammates for scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Season Summary So Far: The Blackhawks came into the 2013-14 season as the odds-on favourite to win the Stanley Cup, even after doing just that the season before. The ‘Hawks blew past the Washington Capitals in their banner-raising ceremony, before falling surprisingly to the Tampa Bay Lighting. The St. Louis Blues kept them out of the win column the game after that, but Chicago bounced back, winning four straight before dropping another game to their division rivals, this time in a shootout. The Blackhawks played their most complete game on Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the best teams in the East.
Strengths: Stacked core of offensive players, killer depth, big but mobile defense, above-average goaltending, elite coaching staff, tons of NHL-ready prospects
Weaknesses: Some older players, weak penalty-kill, can become undisciplined, lose the majority of their overtime/shootout decisions.
The Real Deal?: Oh yes. All Chicago needs to do in the bulk of the season is maintain a slightly above-average record, and a late-season push will be enough to give them some home-ice advantage, and the Blackhawks will be back in familiar territory, reaching the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. Injury holes will be filled by energetic prospects, and another strong goaltending tandem will stop all the shots that the defenseman let by, if any. With 19 players that can get on the score-sheet, the ‘Hawks just need to be able to back up the offense with a strong showing in their own end.
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