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12-16-2012, 09:56 AM
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After a bitter lockout, the 2013-2014 season was a successful campaign for the Chicago Blackhawks. After a slow start to the year, the Hawks raced to finish the regular season with 104 points and second place in the West, behind a dominant defending champion LA Kings team.

It was also a season of surprises for the Hawks. Standout rookies Brandon Saad and Jeremy Morin were expected to make the jump to the NHL this season, but to the surprise of all, both were held back in favor of promoting 2008 1st round pick Kyle Beach to a 3rd line assignment next to the gritty two way center Dave Bollland. Also returning to the Hawks was youngster Andrew Shaw, a 5th round standout that surprised everyone during his 2011-2012 draft year. Shaw lined up next to Bolland and Bolland to form one of the toughest 3rd lines in the league. Their smothering forecheck was successful in forcing opponents to make. mistakes in their own end all season long as Bolland and Shaw led the team in takeaway and shorthanded goals.

Other roster surprises saw the Blackhawks not only address their hole at 2C via trade, but saw the team inundated with two-way centers. Centers Mike Fisher, Brandon Sutter, and Adam Henrique all joined the squad this year and turned the Blackhawks forward corps into a truly frightening mix of high scoring, hard hitting, and defensively sound lines that frustrated opposing scorers.

Stalberg - Toews - Kane
Sharp - Fisher - Hossa
Beach - Bolland - Shaw
Carcillo - Sutter - Henrique

Keith - Seabrook
Hjalmarsson - Oduya
Leddy - Montador


The first round of the playoffs saw some intense rivalries re-ignited as the defending champion Kings faced the Vancouver Canucks, ultimately prevailing in 6 games but with serious injuries to key plays on the roster, including Brown, Penner, and Doughty. The Blackhawks faced longtime original six rival Detroit Red Wings. Despite fantastic performances by the Red Wings forwards, the Wings were swept as their defenders simply could not withstand the dynamite Hawks offense. Duncan Keith returned to his Norris form, posting 3 goals and 4 assist in 4 games, narrowly leading the Conn Smythe race ahead of Viktor Stalberg (3G, 3a).

The second round saw Keith's dominance continue as the the Hawks faced off against another Central Division rival, the St. Louis Blues. The Hawks prevailed in six hard fought games as the tough Blues forwards and defense sought to grind down the Hawks top forwards. Keith would finish the series with impressive numbers, bringing his totals to 10gp, 3G, 9a, 12 pts to retain his lead for the Conn Smythe race. Viktor Stalberg slowed somewhat, posting 1g,1a in the second round series. Elite forwards Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane both made things interesting, however, as Sharp posted a hat trick in game 3 to lift the Hawks to a 3-1 victory, and Patrick Kane posted a spectacular 4 goal night in a 4-2 win to clinch the series. Sharp now stands at 10gp, 7g, 4a, 11 pts while Kane stands at 10gp 8g, 3a, 11 pts , both narrowly trailing Keith.

The 3rd round is upon the Hawks who look to face the Anaheim Ducks who won in a surprising upset of the LA Kings. The Ducks forwards have struggled mightily with injuries and production, and have relied heavily on hot goaltender Jonas Hiller to see them this far. Things are looking grim for the Ducks, however, as Marian Hossa's return from an 8 week absence due to hip injury draws near. Michael Frolik has been contributing somewhat in Hossa's absence, but the Hawks are eagerly awaiting the return of their regular season - leading powerplay scorer, as well as some of the fantastic chemistry between Sharp and Hossa.

In the east, Steven Stamkos has been on a tear, leading the league in scoring, and leading his team to face off against the Pittsburg Penguins. Despite entering the season as a cup favorite, the Penguins have struggled this season as All-Star goaltender has been beset by injuries. This will be a battle of the scoring centers as Stamkos faces off against Pens superstars Crosby and Malkin.

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