A bitter end to the Chicago Blackhawks’ previous season left fans wanting more
The 2015-16 NHL season gave the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans a lot of reasons to believe that once spring rolled around, the Blackhawks would have a very realistic chance of being the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.
They fell short. Very short.
The Blackhawks’ quest for back-to-back Stanley Cups, and their fourth Cup victory in seven years, ended in seven games against the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It left a numb feeling in the hearts of most fans as it was the first time in four years that Chicago wouldn’t see playoff hockey well into May and June.
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So where does the end of last season and this summer’s offseason moves leave the Blackhawks?
As the 2016-17 NHL season continues to inch closer and closer, here are five reasons the Chicago Blackhawks will regain their spot at the top of the NHL mountain, and win the 2017 Stanley Cup.
1. Reigning MVP Looking To Build Off Career Year
With the distractions of last offseason far behind him, Patrick Kane in one year’s time has put together one of the best seasons for any player in recent Blackhawks history, and the best season of his career so far. Outside of not winning the Stanley Cup, Kane took home the Hart Memorial Trophy, Art Ross trophy and Ted Lindsay Award after posting 106 points (46 goals, 60 assists) in 2015-16.
Hopefully for Chicago to be successful in 2016-17, it won’t take another 20-plus-game point-streak from Kane. But it wouldn’t hurt, right?
One of the biggest surprises for Kane and the Blackhawks last season was the emergence of Russian winger Artemi Panarin. A KHL free-agent signing, he turned into the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. It was quite the story.
Kane and Panarin, who play nearly identical styles of hockey, were paired together with Artem Anisimov on the Blackhawks’ second line, and it would be the shock of the 2016-17 season if that trio was to be split for any reason.
The success of Kane, paired with the breakout star that Panarin has become, and the stability of playing with a legitimate second-line-quality center in Anisimov gives the Blackhawks a fantastic offensive attack behind their top line.
Next: Resting Up