It is almost universally considered that the Hawks will finish at least second in the Central. However do you think they can finish first?
If Huet can surprise people by playing very well, and our Free Agents play better than the players they replaced, I think we have a shoot. I still think Detroit will win it, but even if they do it will not be by much.
i think we can. Detroit aint the same team as last year. replacing Hossa will be huge. He scored alot of goals for them. Burt & Williams wont make up for the lost goals IMO. meanwhile the hawks have gained Hossa, but lost Khabby. Khabby was stellar for us last year and won alot of games for us. Now we have no choice but Huet and I have always said it, he scares me. he is too streaky to be a starter IMO. he is really hot, then gives up easy goals for multiple games in a row. Maybe now that he is the definate Numero Uno starter, he will take his game up another level. he has been good in the past, but something about him scares me. There alot of other things to consider liek losing Havlat, Hossa being out till Christmas, etc... but i think it will be a tight race if we dont win the div.
I'm cautiously optimistic. The overall sense I get on this and other boards is that many feel the Hawks are in the top-5 in the league and one of the favorites to win the cup. I'm not THAT SURE they will even win the division. I think St Louis and Columbus will be improved and until I see Detroit NOT win the division I don't count them out.
The Hawks really had good chemistry last season but you can't count on that staying the same from year to year. But ... I think it comes down to three things:
1. Staying healthy - which is the same for every team.
2. Goaltending being atleast average if not better than average.
3. Continued improvement from the young core of players. The Hawks, probably more than any other team will count on players going into their second, third, or fourth year. Those players are still in the upward trajectory and should be stronger, know and see the game better and contribute more positive shifts than last year.
All that said - I think the Hawks are one of the teams that can be said to control their own destiny - if they can realize their potential - they'll be damn good and have a great chance. Not only for the division but more importantly (dare I say it?) for the Stanley Cup.
They've got a good shot. It depends on if they can come out of the gates strong and tread water until Hossa get's back. Huet being able to take control of the #1 role is critical too. Crawford/Niemi isn't going to get the same amount of games Huet got last year. Bowman said that himself. It's Detroit's division to lose. We'll see.
Yes, I think they can but I sure hope they don't. Lowered expectations going into the playoffs equal Stanley Cup championships. Penguins had a 99 point season, left for dead halfway through the year and beat a 108 point team in the second round and a 112 point team for the Title. Let's hope the Hawks go 5-1 against the Wings but finish 2nd in the Central. Let teams like San Jose have another 150 point year or whatever and get creamed by some 90 point team in the first round. Hawks fly under the radar and we smoke 'em when it counts!
This team need to utilize it's superior skating ability and talent and put pressure on the opposition in the defensive zone. Despite the fact the team was top 5 in GA, it surely wasn't because of strategy. This was clearly evident in the playoffs as the Hawks routinely allowed easy zone entry and chose to box in instead of pressuring the puck. Detroit feasted on this strategy as they generally faced little opposition to puck advancement and cycling.
When the Hawks put pressure at the blue line and on the puck they absolutely shut people down. When they don't our goalies get peppered with high percentage scoring chances. The Hawks will be good enough to thrive during the regular season but this will KILL them in the playoffs. It did last year.
Most people point to Huet as the key, but I think our aggression on defense is more important. If we do this Huet won't be under much pressure and I think he'll thrive in that situation.
I won't even mention the offense as everyone knows we should be stellar there barring catastrophic injuries.