Hawks open at Champs on National Stage

On Saturday the NHL reopens for business and the Chicago Blackhawks will be highlighted on NBC as they go up against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. This game is loaded with stars, the biggest of whom is Jonathan Quick who was lights out in the playoffs last year as he dispatched the top 3 seeds in the Western Conference before going up love-3 on New Jersey and eventually winning in 6.

The Blackhawks have some star power of their own with a daunted top 2 lines that include Kane, Toews, Sharp and Hossa. However this game will be decided by how well Chicago handles the pressure behind their own blue line and they certainly can’t go down continuously on the Power Play as that is almost certain death. The defensive corps will have their hands full as they try to tame the mammoth beast that is Dustin Drown, Mike Richards and Playoff scoring leader Anze Kopitar.

The Blackhawks are a good team and will most definitely make the playoffs depending on health and how they deal will the short season. That is to say the team that can stay away from the slow start will fare better than those who don’t. There is no room for being slow out of the gate with the weighted divisional and conference scheduling. The Blackhawks are a great team and the NHL would love to see them go deep in the postseason for their own sake, but that’s not how Gary Bettman rolls. One only has to look at the Kings cup run for this. The matchup in goal is where the Hawks will be at their greatest disadvantage. Jonathan Quick is a tall quck moving lateral goalie who covers the crease better than most goalies in the league today, and is perhaps ushering in a new breed of goaltender into the NHL. Corey Crawford cannot compete, so look for Chicago to try and push the pace and do a lot of forchecking to keep LA back in their own zone, however the defense can’t be caught chipping in too deep or they will caught flat footed, and with the offensive weapons of LA, Chicago cannot handle any type of odd man rushes or it will be a quick wake up call for them.

This will be a tough game, but an enjoyable one with a lot of fancy passing and puck work. Don’t look for a lot of fighting as the Western Conference is a lot more spread out than the East in terms of that, perhaps Bettman would be best served as to realign Chicago in the East for a more bruising style of Hockey.