CALGARY, AB -- It’s tough to have higher expectations than the previous season’s results when you’re the defending Stanley Cup champions, but the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t diminishing their goal for the 2013-14 season.
Though they’ve turned over several members of their championship team a season ago, Chicago’s core remains intact and poised to return to the Final for the third time in five years. Nothing short would be acceptable for the Blackhawks, anyway.
Chicago’s shown little reason to think otherwise, starting the season at 9-2-3. They’ve also won three straight heading into Sunday’s game against the Calgary Flames.
Last Season: 36-7-5, 77 points (1st in West)
Notable Additions: G Nikolai Khabibulin, D Theo Peckham
Notable Subtractions: C Dave Bolland, RW Michael Frolik, RW Viktor Stalberg, G Ray Emery, LW Daniel Carcillo, D Steve Montador, LW Rostislav Olesz
Flames Season Series Record: 0-0-0
Though he didn’t hit the score sheet against the Winnipeg Jets Saturday night, Jonathan Toews has eight points in his previous five games. The Blackhawks captain has seven goals and 13 points in 14 games this season.
Having scored 25 goals over their past five games, few teams are as hot offensively as the Blackhawks. Their scoring prowess has been well distributed, too. Chicago’s depth has shone bright lately with 13 different players have recorded goals for Chicago in the past five games, too.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Backstopping the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup last spring, Crawford has proved early to be no fluke. The 28-year-old goaltender has eight wins on the season and is sporting a 2.12 goals against average and .920 save percentage. Crawford isn’t guaranteed to get the nod against Calgary; however, after starting Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.
Selected 43rd overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Saad has proven to be great value in his brief NHL career. The 21-year-old already has 62 career games under his belt, including 14 this season. He’s made the most of his opportunities, too, with three goals and eight points.
The 22-year-old Pirri is making the most of his first NHL opportunity, too. Having played just seven NHL games coming into the year, the 6-foot-, 183-pound forward has dressed for eight this season, recording two goals and five points.