Last year was a very good year for Chicago hockey fans. The Chicago Blackhawks acquired several key players and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992. At the Finals, they faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers, defeating them for their first Stanley Cup victory since 1961.
There has been some debate as to whether they will be able to repeat last year’s performance this season. One of the chief issues is that they have made some key personnel changes since last season. Regardless, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses should help you decide if you want the Blackhawks among your sports betting picks.
There are a few problems that could seriously hamper Chicago’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup again this season:
After the 2009-2010 season, the Blackhawks had to trade many key players or let them sign onto other teams as free agents because of a salary cap issue. Some key players they lost include Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, and Antti Niemi.
The absence of starting goaltender Antti Niemi, one of the Chicago Blackhawks’ most important players, could really hurt the Blackhawks’ chances of reclaiming the Stanley Cup. Niemi’s replacement, Marty Turco, is good, but well past his prime. His experience could be an asset, but he is not in peak physical condition like Niemi. A good goalie is crucial - a team can win a game in which they did not do particularly well merely by having a goalie that refuses to let any shots in.
I'm not eliminating the Blackhawks from my NHL picks just yet because Chicago may not be down and out just yet.
Despite losing key players, many of their most important team members are still in place (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, etc.). The core of their defense is still intact, so expect no changes there.
The Blackhawks are strong as a team, not just as a star player with a bunch of back-up skating around to assist. Losing a few good players might not have an overwhelming impact because of their power as a unit. Their stunning performance last season was a result of not one particular player, but a result of how all the players worked together.
Team captain Jonathan Toews is among the best players in the NHL.