With the NHLPA approving the 24-team return-to-play format on May 22, 2020, Blackhawk’s playoff hockey is officially back in Chicago for the first time since 2017. The team will face the Edmonton Oilers in the play-in round, and will then lead to the typical 16-team format used year-to-year.
If they beat the Oilers, they will play the Dallas Stars in the official first round series. I believe the Blackhawks can beat both of these teams. Here’s why:
First, the Blackhawks have playoff-proven players in Johnathan Towes, Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith, and even other non-dynasty players such as Ryan Carpenter (SJS/VGK) and Calvin DeHaan (CAR). These guys know how to play in the playoffs and know how to get business done.
Secondly, Corey Crawford. Plain and simple. Having played in 87 playoff games since 2009, he won 48 of them and backstopped the Blackhawks to two Stanley Cup championships in three seasons. In this span, he also managed to post a .920 save percentage along with a 2.25 GAA, which is beyond remarkable. Crawford has showed throughout his time as an NHL goalie he can step up in big games, which includes the playoffs. If he can do that, there’s already an extra win or two per series there.
Lastly, the Blackhawks can be a good team. They can. They showed it last year going on a seven game winning streak, and this year by going on a four game winning streak. They can win three of four, or at least three of five games at a time. If the whole* team wants it, they can get it.
But, the whole team has to want it. The young guys can’t count on the older, experienced guys to carry them, and the older guys can’t always count on the young guys to want it bad enough to perform. This needs to be a team effort. If it is, we may be in for some interesting hockey, and something the city of Chicago hasn’t seen since 2015, a Blackhawks playoff series WIN.
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