The Chicago Blackhawks entered the 2010-11 season as defending Stanley Cup champion, but thanks in part to poor salary cap management and in part to a playoff hangover, the Hawks got off to a terrible start. They eventually regianed form before bowing out to Vancouver in 7 games in the opeing round (rallying from down 3-0 to force Game 7). With a few new additions, a more comfortable goaltending situation, and a few of the game’s best young players, Chicago should be in the hunt in the Western Conference.
Blackhawk up writer John Schultze has this to say about Chicago’s upcoming season:
Looking at the names on the roster, one can’t help but get giddy with anticipation. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook; is there a better core group in the NHL? The simple answer is “No.” Aside from solid years from the departed Brian Campbell and rookies Corey Crawford (.917 Sv%, 2.30 GAA) and Brian Bickell (17 G, 37 Pts), these guys for the most part dragged around a group of has-beens and never-should-have-been-yets, and still came within an overtime goal of taking down the Presidents’ Trophy winners and hated rivals, the Vancouver Canucks. With a long summer to recharge and another year’s experience under their belts, this still young crew will have a much better – and much deeper – supporting cast this season.
GM Stan Bowman pulled off this summer what many thought impossible just one year earlier: upgrade the bottom half of the roster, replenish the supply lines, and create additional cap space for potential in-season upgrades.
You can read the rest of Schultze’s analysis at Blackhawk Up.