After coming off what some would call a disappointing season, the Chicago Blackhawks are quietly the best team in the NHL right now. At 22-9-4 with 48 points, the Hawks are playing surprising well considering the many questions going into the 2011-2012 season. When they won the Stanley Cup in 2010, it was thought to be the start of a dynasty led by extremely talented young players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. However their success would not be possible without veterans Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. This combination of youth and veteran players is deadly in any sport and has proven to be a successful mixture for Chicago. Toews has been the leader since he first started playing for the Hawks and Kane has finally matured and realized his true potential. When they are on the ice together, it is almost unfair for any other team. Duncan Keith has been regarded as one of the best defensemen in the NHL for many years and won the Norris Trophy in 2010 which is the MVP for defensive players. Sharp is a phenomenal winger who brings speed and toughness, and is a deadly scorer. Hossa is probably the most essential player to the Hawks success. Prior to signing with Chicago in 2010, he had been to the Stanley Cup Finals two years straight, with the Penguins in ’07-08 and the Red Wings in ’08-’09. With his experience and high skill level, he makes the Hawks even more deadly.
The Hawks were not necessarily expected to be as good as they are this season, especially because of the uncertainty at the goalie position. Unlike most NHL power houses, the Blackhawks have not had one consistent goalie through the years. In ’08-’09 they had the ‘Bulin Wall’, Nikolai Khabibulin, then after he left the Hawks inserted Antti Niemi who ended up being the goalie for the Stanley Cup in 2010. After winning the cup, the torch was passed to Corey Crawford last season and he was pretty solid throughout the year. This season, they picked up veteran Ray Emery who has now emerged as the number one goalie for the team. He has played extremely well, in the top ten for most goalie statistics. If the Blackhawks can keep this pace for the remainder of the season, there is no reason we shouldn’t be celebrating another Stanley Cup win in June 2012.