And I'm not just talking about our defensive depth. Look at our forward lines, its ridiculous.
Line 1: Toews and Hossa may be our 2 best defensive forwards, throw is Saad who has played very responsibly and you have the best 2 way line in the NHL
Line 3: Our checking line with 2 big, speedy wings and a grinder center who always gives it 100%.
Line 4: Our 2 top penalty killers and a little muscle
Line 2: possibly our worst defensive line and it has our shut down defensive center on it and Patrick Sharp, another good defensive player.
As long as there aren't a ton of injuries or a goaltender meltdown, I don't see any way we aren't in the top 5 teams in goals against this year. The way Q has configured the lines, along with some guys really accepting their roles, may make this a better defensive team than the 09 team that ended up 5th in goals against.
The Blackhawks are allowing virtually the same number of shots against this year as they have the previous two years (around 27-28 per game) but the goaltenders are stopping a higher percentage of them. In that regard, the defense has changed little since the Cup was won. Crawford's spotless 1.5 GAA is not due to facing fewer shots per game.
In 2009-10 (Cup year), the Hawks allowed an average of around 25 shots on goal, which climbed to almost 30 SOG during the playoffs. The goaltending during the Cup year was bad (Huet) to average (Niemi), and they were allowing 2.48 goals per game, as opposed to 1.78 this year.
The goaltending this season is the best that the Hawks have had in recent memory, and there isn't much credit due to the defense, which is worse than the Cup year by a significant margin. If this team had that year's Niemi and Huet in goal, they would not be doing well at all. If the Hawks win the Cup again this year, it will be because of the goaltenders.
w00d, if you haven't noticed the difference in shot quality against Hawks goalies, you're not watching closely enough. They've played well but they're also facing nowhere near as many great scoring chances as they did all of last season.
^^Agree with Sevanston, although shot quality is the most important factor by far.
I'm also in the "better defense" camp. Last year, everyone was *****ing about the goaltending, but while the goaltending wasn't good, they were regularly getting peppered with great chances.
More than anything, it seems that our forwards or defense are always in the right possession to clear our rebounds. Seems like there were dozens of goals last year that were stopped by the goalie and then banged in by a wide open man in front of the net.
Keith bailed out Crawford twice in two early games taking away a sure goal that would have trickled across the crease. Had those gone in, the Hawks may have lost. Crawfords confidence may have reversed being very early in the season. Of course there are other incidents but those two stick out for me.
It seems the Hawks d and forwards are protecting the goal this year more than ever playing much better percentage hockey instead of high risk run and shoot. Great to see.
Additions of Oduya and Rosival has cemented the defense with experience and ability.
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock: "They don't give up easy ice anymore. You don't get odd-man rushes. You don't get lots of time in the offensive zone. There is no easy ice when you play them now. Every piece of the ice is contested.
"Last year, they played kind of a hybrid game where there was a lot more attacking going on and a lot more numbers on the attack, but it opened up odd-man rushes against. This year, they've lowered the risk and increased the wins. I think there is a great answer there. They play a very smart, manage-the-ice game.
"When you watch them play, every time you look there are five in the picture. And when there are five in the picture that leads to winning hockey."...