The Chicago Blackhawks have been to the Western Conference final or further in four of the last six years with two Stanley Cup wins. Are they worth a play on the NHL odds for the 2014-15 season?
What Went Wrong Last Season?
Not much: the Blackhawks lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in a tight, seven-game series. On top of that, they lost at home in overtime of Game 7, so really, there was a coin flip chance that they moved on and not the Kings.
The Chicago Blackhawks are fully loaded and will again be in contention for the Cup. Don’t sweat their minor shortcomings from last season.
The Blackhawks return most of their team intact. They didn’t have any significant free agents (Ben Smith, Michal Handzus, Peter Regin, Sheldon Brookbank and Antti Raanta). Raanta was the one they needed to keep as he’s a key backup goalie and they did, but they also brought back Regin and Smith too.
The main addition for the Blackhawks was center Brad Richards. Although he’s past his prime, he’ll be a great addition to an already deep team. He’s won a Cup before, been a captain and is an excellent penalty killer. It may not seem like much but he could be the last missing piece on this team.
It’s tough to bet against the Blackhawks. There’s no good reason they shouldn’t win the Western Conference. They’re loaded at every level. A forwards unit that features Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Bryan Bickell, Kris Versteeg, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad and Richards is downright scary. Their blue line and goaltending is well above average too. When making your NHL picks know they’ll be in contention for a Cup and choosing between them, the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings is splitting hairs.
NHL Pick: Lose the Western Conference Final