You can rack your brain and try to figure out reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks
won't win the Stanley Cup this season.
Reasons like problematic goaltending, lack of defensive depth, a below-average power play, and perhaps even some inexperience -- though that's much less a factor this year – are possibilities.
They're all legit, but the reasons why the Hawks can win the Stanley Cup are, too.
There's tremendous skill to go with a masterful puck-possession style. Unsung goaltending paired with a dominating penalty kill. There's quality coaching and veteran experience at work. And, let's not forget Jonathan Toews
If the Hawks are going to win the prize this season, all of those factors will come into play in a positive way.
will be given another platform to showcase his ability, and his mouthpiece, which he chews on while he skates as if it was a wad of gum. Kane became a 30-goal scorer this season, but could it be that he's only heating up?
Toews was voted the best forward in the Olympics and he's determined to double his fun by winning in June. So are defensemen Duncan Keith
and Brent Seabrook
, who like Kane and Toews, understand what playoff hockey is all about.
Toews seems like one of those captains that won't let his team lose. It's why he draws comparisons to Steve Yzerman
and Bryan Trottier
, who wasn't the captain of the Islander dynasty teams, but was just as influential a leader.
and Cristobal Huet
have been the maligned netminding duo all season. Nobody seems to think they can get the job done, but Niemi will be given first crack and, of late, he has proven he can be good enough to win for this team.
And, remember, these Blackhawks are very much like the Red Wings of the past (perhaps the present, too?). The goalie doesn't have to string together amazing, stand-on-his-head performances to win in the playoffs. He just has to make seven or eight difficult saves per game because the team's puck-possession style limits the shots against.
Coach Joel Quenneville
hasn't figured out how to get any of his teams into the Stanley Cup Final yet, but he was on Marc Crawford
's staff in Colorado when the Avalanche won the Cup in 1996, so he knows what getting there is all about.
Sticking with the experience theme, the Hawks have some now, and we're not just talking about the young players that went on a deep run last season. John Madden
won the Stanley Cup twice with the Devils and Marian Hossa
has played in the last two Stanley Cup Final series with Pittsburgh and then Detroit.
Don't forget, too, that Tomas Kopecky
was with the Red Wings for their last two runs. He didn't play a lot, but he was with the team every step of the way, so he has firsthand knowledge about what it takes to win in the playoffs.
Outside of Niemi, so does every core member of this team.
It might just be their turn.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl