The Stanley Cup is arguably one of the toughest achievements to accomplish.
However, the Chicago Blackhawks make it look easy.
Capturing two Stanley Cups and reaching the Western Conference Finals three times over the past five seasons, Chicago is quickly molding into one of the most prolific collectives the NHL has ever seen. And they’re far from done.
Currently up 1-0 in their WCF series against the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago looks primed to collect their second consecutive hardware, which hasn’t been done since the Detroit Red Wings did it from 1997-98. It’s such a remarkable feat, because its been nearly 20 years since a hockey team has won back-to-back Cups.
Make no mistake though, this Blackhawks’ squad is fully capable of pushing the envelope season after season. And should they go the distance this year, it’s getting to the point where we have to start calling this team a dynasty.
What’s even more fascinating, is that they’re still able to manufacture series wins even though the Western Conference is stacked with powerhouses. The Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Kings, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues – the list goes on-and-on in terms of who could easily dethrone the Blackhawks. Yet, they can’t.
Every one of the Western Conference teams have tremendous talent, but they’ve yet to form an identity like the Blackhawks have.
Each member of Chicago seems to turn it up when the postseason arrives. Specifically Jonathan Toews.
Toews, who’s the captain and consummate pro, leads by example. Displaying strong drive and a will to win, Toews sparks the rest of his teammates with vast determination and hunger. If there comes a time when Chicago is in desperate need to bury a goal or receive a jolt, Toews is the man that’s going to be there to jumpstart his team. Of course, Toews is only as good as the players that surround him, but he’s got the best supporting cast in the league.
Duncan Keith is another commander.
Rallying around the captaincy of Toews, who keenly polices the forwards, Keith is the defensive unit general. Finishing second in the NHL during the regular-season for scoring (74 points) and in line to garner his second career Norris Trophy (best defenseman), Keith does a phenomenal job in directing defensive assignments and tutoring his corps.
And if you thought you were tough as nails, try losing seven teeth and remain in the game to help your team clinch a series – ’cause that’s what Keith did back in 2010.
Then you got Mr. “Showtime” – Patrick Kane.
Kane, whose got the silkiest mitts in the entire league – next to maybe Pavel Datsyuk – is nothing short of clutch himself. Potting the game-winning goal to secure their 2010 Cup victory, Kane is a master in making the impossible look effortless. Posing as a leader in his own right, Kane is Toews’ other half, in that Chicago is going to benefit off Kane’s late-game heroics. Forget the fact Kane is a reckless, foolhardy partier, because the man delivers game-in and game-out.
Those three skaters – Kane, Keith, and Toews – are the type of experience and skill that keeps Chicago in the running for a Cup every season. Yes, the Blackhawks have nifty scorers like Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad, and brutal, gritty third/fourth-liners like Brian Bickel and Brandon Bollig, but the trio of Kane, Keith, and Toews can’t be matched.
Winning takes heart, and there’s no shortage of that in Chicago.
You look at the trio of Kane, Keith, and Toews and you think, “eh, they’re okay,” because they’re perhaps not as highly-profiled as a Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, or a Steven Stamkos. But the fact is they just point blank dominate together. Which is odd, considering all the talent the Pittsburgh Penguins have, you’d assume they would throttle the league. On the contrary.
The balanced lineup, continuity, and urgency allows Chicago to be the well-oiled machine they’ve become. Wherever they finish this postseason, we can’t deny the fact they’re building something special over at the United Center in Chicago. And it’s great to watch this team execute like they do on a daily basis.
Now, can they lend a few pointers over to my Pittsburgh Penguins? Pretty please?