Lockout? What lockout? The NHL is back with a bang despite the shortened 2013 season. What’s amazing is that there’s already a clear favorite for Lord Stanley’s Cup. While Chicago Fire may be the hottest new show without question the hottest thing in the windy city is the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are on a historic start in which they have set an NHL record of 23 games with accumulating at least 1 point. They remain the only team with a big goose egg in the lost column as they’ve scorched through the NHL season with a 20-0-3 record to start the season. How have the Blackhawks been so dominant on route to a league leading 43 points? Well for starters the have one of the best goals per game average of 3.13 and one of the best penalty killing units by killing 88.8% of their opponents power plays. But the real key to the success of the Blackhawks has been their goalkeeper Corey Crawford. For years the goaltending for the Blackhawks has been a large question mark. In 2013 though Crawford has seemingly come out of nowhere to lead the league in wins for NHL net minders.
He is second in the league in both save percentage .940 and GAA 1.53. We’ve known the Blackhawks can score but now add in one of the best goaltenders in the NHL and you have a deadly combination. It’s a pretty easy equation when trying to figure Chicago’s success. When your one of the best teams at putting the puck in the net while also being one of the best at keeping it out of your own net your going to win a lot of games. Patrick Kane has added 12 goals and 15 assists while Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa have added a combined 19 goals and 19 assists apiece. The talent on this team is without question, but the only question that remains is when will this team finally drop a game? That will be interesting because it’s easy to win when you’re on a winning strike, but great teams can quickly adapt to adversity. If this team loses a game and goes on another win streak then they will have solidified themselves as Stanley Cup favorites. However, if they go on a losing streak or play 500 hockey for an extended amount of time then you have to question this team’s ability to overcome losing. While it’s great for hockey if the Blackhawks keep winning, we will not really find if this is the best team in hockey until they lose some games. Things are going great in Chicago right now and this team is hot, but you also have to worry as a Blackhawk’s fan is this team getting too hot too early?
Don’t forget it’s better to be hot in the playoffs then at the beginning of the season. No one will care how amazing this team’s start was if they lose early in the playoffs. The old saying “it’s not how you start it’s how you finish” is a great analogy for this team because if the season ends well short of a Stanley Cup victory then it has been a failure. While the playoffs are still a few moths off one thing I do know is this. This is by far the most dominant team I’ve seen in the NHL in a long time. If they continue to play anywhere near this level come playoff time, I think we will be seeing the Stanley Cup residing in the Windy City at the end of the 2013 season.