Blackhawks fans have only just over a week to wait for hockey to resume. After over 100 days of lockout gloom, there are real games on the horizon. Since the Hawks have been gone for over nine months now, it's time to reacquaint ourselves with the team. Fortunately, this will be easy as GM Stan Bowman was essentially MIA during the NHL off-season, with his main signing being defenseman Sheldon Brookbank.
Although the team has been competitive since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, fans have been disappointed seeing two consecutive first-round exits from the playoffs. 2013, and the start of a new season, offer fresh promise for the Blackhawks, but there are a few big issues that may determine the course of the season. With that, I give you the top five concerns for Blackhawks fans heading into this shortened season:
5) Goalie- Corey Crawford and Ray Emery provided a fair rotation in the net last year, but with the Hawks' offense not being the same since 2010, some of the team's woes since could be blamed on the overall average play from the net-minders.
4) Second-line center- Patrick Kane? Patrick Sharp? Dave Bolland? Marcus Krueger? Is it possible Michael Frolik would be in the mix? Clearly, there are a lot of questions when it comes to this spot. Kane looked good in spurts last year, but no one was disappointed with Sharp getting a bulk of that play in 2010. Whatever the Hawks do, they certainly need more production from this spot, and solidifying who will be playing it should help.
3) Development of the young talent- Players like Krueger, Nick Leddy, Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes have shown that they can play in the NHL. While Shaw and Hayes have less time in the league than the others, all show promise, but have yet to take the next step. The Hawks will need some of these players to step up and begin filling in the vacancies left by the players lost since 2010.
2) The defense- After Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, the Hawks defense has been spotty at best the previous two seasons. The addition of Johnny Oduya looked like a good move by Bowman last year, but obviously it was not enough for success in the playoffs. Once again, consistency is the key, and the Hawks need to regain that consistency; especially on the penalty-kill.
And the number one concern for Blackhawks fans this year:
Stan Bowman- Perhaps Bowman has not had enough time since 2010 to truly show the direction he is taking the team. However, with such staples on the roster as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, the lack of success in the playoffs the last two seasons is simply inexcusable. I am not calling for Bowman's head, but the Blackhawks surely need their GM to find the right talent to put on the ice.
Calming any of the concerns listed above would go a long way for Bowman. The Hawks have faced these issues for going on three seasons now, so improving in any of these areas would certainly give the team a chance to advance past the first round of the playoffs. The question is, if these issues do not get fixed, and if new ones arise, will Bowman be able to find a way to salvage this season?
Filed under: Blackhawks
Tags: 2012 NHL Lockout, Andrew Shaw, Brent Seabrook, Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks, Corey Crawford, Dave Bolland, Duncan Keith, Hockey, Jimmy Hayes, Johnny Oduya, Marcus Krueger, Michael Frolik, NHL, Nick Leddy, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Ray Emery, Roster, Sheldon Brookbank, Stan Bowman, Top 5