Well, Tim Sassone took my idea of comparing these Blackhawks with the Western Conference champion Edmonton Oilers of 2005-’06. Yes, the ‘Hawks don’t have Chris Pronger, but they have a nice stable of forwards and a third line capable of being the team’s best on any given night. Throw in some good goaltending, and it’s a rather favorable comparison.
As I’ve said to friends and family who ask about this team’s capabilities, in the two seasons preceding the lock-out and and the season immediately following the stopage, the 7th, 6th and 8th seeded Western Conference teams, respectively, represented the conference in the Stanley Cup Final. And, while I don’t believe the Blackhawks will ultimately be seeded that low, it’s hard to ignore the team’s general make-up when analyzing the team’s playoff chances: a top-flight two-way center, a couple pure goal scorers, one of the league’s best third lines, a contributing fourth line, one of the league’s best offensive defenseman, one of the league’s best defenseman, and great goaltending.
Yes, they’re young; yes, they’d be ahead of schedule. But, as any true NHL fan knows, the game changes dramatically when the playoffs begin, and all sixteen remaining teams become contenders. And, as we learned in the years surrounding the lock-out, anything can happen. While the regular season often favors high scoring teams, the playoffs reward teams that play physically and well in both ends. Perhaps that describes the ‘Hawks more than others.
So, as we here at the Fifth Feather wish you all a Merry Christmas, we’ll ask you the same thing the NHL asks fans in their recent commercial campaign: Is this the year?
Thanks for reading,
John and Bob