The Chicago Blackhawks were the undisputed best team in the NHL for the 2012-13 season. Chicago breezed through the regular season and won the President’s Trophy handily. Then Chicago did something that has not been done since 2007-08; they won the Stanley Cup in the same season they won the President’s Trophy. The Blackhawks made sure that it retained its Stanley Cup winning roster this time, avoiding the fire sale that happened the last time the team won the Cup. Chicago is the odds-on favorites to win it all again this year, and there is little that could really stop this team from repeating as Stanley Cup champions. Then again, sports fans were saying the same thing about the Los Angeles Kings retaining their Stanley Cup championship and that did not work out well at all.
2014 Stanley Cup Odds: 6/1
Key #1: Corey Crawford needs to be consistent.
Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford finally got the big contract that every goalie dreams of and he deserved it as well. He not only backstopped the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship last season, he and his former backup Ray Emery also won the Jennings Trophy for the best goals against in the league. But Emery and Crawford split time last season, which had a lot to do with Crawford’s development. With Emery gone to Philadelphia, Crawford is on his own and it could be a scary thing for this very young goaltender. He has talent, now he just needs to put that talent to work and show everyone that he deserves that big contract.
Key #2: Stay focused.
There were times last season when the Chicago Blackhawks actually made playing NHL hockey look easy. They would destroy the top competition in the league and, in many instances, without breaking a sweat. They were a focused team and they were rewarded for their focus with a Stanley Cup championship. Lately, the Blackhawks have been doing television commercials and making public appearances that glorify their talents. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it can cause a team to lose that focus. The Blackhawks know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup championship. We will all find out this season if they are able to maintain that focus, or if the glory has gone to their heads.
Key #3: Change nothing else.
When you are a Stanley Cup champion that is the undisputed best team in the NHL and you retain your entire roster, then change nothing else. The one noticeable difference is the loss of Ray Emery and that could be significant if Crawford cannot handle the heat. But, otherwise, the Chicago Blackhawks should just keep everything the same and take the same approach this season that they took last season. If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.
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