Fond memories of the 2008-09 campaign won’t help the Blackhawks when the first puck drops October 2 in Finland.
Coming off their best season since moving to the United Center, Chicago will be considered one of the favorites to hoist the 2010 Stanley Cup. But they will probably have to start quickly out of the gate because the season gets progressively tougher approaching April and beyond.
So how can the Blackhawks ensure their spot in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs -- the first step to the championship? Earning 100 points for the season is a good place to start, and crossing that threshold is the first goal that most elite teams set for themselves in the regular season.
Although it will still be a challenge, the 2009-10 team's quest for 100 points is slightly less daunting than that of previous years. Of the team's six 100-point seasons prior to 2008-09, five of them came in a 78- or 80-game schedule. With 82 games to play, this season's Blackhawks have a little more wiggle room than those teams. If they can earn more than 50 points in their first 41 games, they could play from a position of strength during the second half and -- more importantly -- the playoff run.
By last season’s mid-point, the young Hawks earned 55 points on their way to 104 for the year. If you look back to each of the Blackhawks’ seven 100-point teams, only once did the team hit the halfway mark with fewer than 50 points (they tallied 49 in the 1973-74 season before achieving 105 points in a 78-game schedule).
With their loaded roster, head coach Joel Quenneville’s team should be aiming to surpass the all-time team mark of 107 points this year, but their opponents will not take them lightly. Getting a strong start in the first half will go a long way toward exceeding last season's success.