With Gary Bettman’s “return to play plan” announced yesterday, it begs the question, can the Chicago Blackhawks run the playoff gauntlet?
For the Chicago Blackhawks to run the biggest playoff gauntlet in league history, they’ll need to knock out some good teams. It’s not like they’re in any advantage either, as they’re playing the toughest opponents, as they’re the lowest seed.
Luckily for Chicago, they’re going to have a healthy lineup for the first time in a very long time, with some stars potentially returning, as the playoffs are expected to start in late July, early August.
Look, the Blackhawks are a solid team, with a solid penalty kill yet again. During the past two seasons where they missed the playoffs, Chicago did poorly on the penalty kill. Finally, they’ve improved on the penalty kill and can stop solid teams on the power play.
Along with that, that core group from 2010 is still there. That background of winning three Stanley Cups is still apart of that team, along with players on the team that was in Chicago in 2013. They’ve been through crazy times like the 2013 shortened season, they understand this craziness to an extent.
This benefits Chicago more than any team. Adding to that, this championship pedigree with the players on this team that have rings could be the difference-maker for Chicago against other teams, like the Oilers who haven’t had much playoff experience.
Most of the success in the 2010s came off the sticks of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and the glove of Corey Crawford. Four of the five of those players will be playing in this playoff, with there being little to no chance of a Seabrook return, as he’s still recovering from his surgeries.
Of course, there has been a ton of players that have made big impacts, for example, 2013 saw many unsung heroes, like Dave Bolland and Ray Emery, along with Bryan Bickell and many others. The same thing in 2015, with many players stepping up to the plate during that Stanley Cup run.
The fact is, they have the talent to make a run for the Stanley Cup on paper. The way this team gels on the ice is a totally different thing. If they can run the gauntlet and win the Stanley Cup, more players will want to play in Chicago.
If they get somewhat close, they’ll improve, as they’re on the rise and it’ll give this team the confidence they have lacked since 2017.