5 on 1: The Top 5 Reasons the Chicago Blackhawks Won the Western Conference

The Chicago Blackhawks have been a dominating force all season long. In this article, we will take a look at the top 5 reasons that the Chicago Blackhawks Won the Western Conference Championship and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.

5. Coach Knows Best

Joel Quenneville is currently in his fifth season as Head Coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jun 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville at a press conference after game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center. The Blackhawks won 4-3 to win the series four games to one. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

During his time with the organization, he has earned a record of 141-73-28 behind the bench. In 2010, he led the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.

This year, he will be looking to raise the Stanley Cup once again for the people of Chicago.

Quenneville possesses such an intimate knowledge of his team that he knows which players complement each other, and how to adjust the lines just perfectly in order to compensate for any situation; much like he did by putting Patrick Kane back on a line with captain Jonathan Toews. The competitive spirit between the two of them helped propel that line to new heights.

4. “Crow” Flies High in the Net

While some in Chicago fans inexplicably have their doubts about Corey Crawford and his proclivity to let soft goals go in the net, quite inexplicably if you ask me, it is hard to argue against numbers.

Jun 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save against the Los Angeles Kings during the first overtime in game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Crawford currently leads the NHL during the playoffs this season with his Goals Allowed Average of 1.74. He has a Save Percentage of .935, which is only topped by Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask is also hot on Crawford’s tail feathers in regards to his GAA, in which Rask has 1.75.

The one thing that sets Crawford apart from other goalies in the NHL is his ability to reset himself. Just like any other goalie in the league, Crawford does indeed let in the occasional soft goal. You find me a goalie that doesn’t, and I’ll show you one that hasn’t had a lot of ice time in the NHL.

However, Crawford is able to completely let it go, reset himself, and get his mind ready for the next shot, unlike some goaltenders who find themselves trapped in a little ball of anger, whether at themselves or at the opponent, that allows them to leave holes open leading to further goals. As the old saying goes, ‘Cooler heads prevail.’ In this case, Crawford stands as a shining example of the old adage.

3. Quality Runs Deep Within the Blackhawks

You can never have too much talent on one team, but the Chicago Blackhawks are sure trying to test that theory. On some teams, you will find that there are always one or two shining stars, and then a cast of background players that will fill in the holes. This is most certainly not the case with the Chicago Blackhawks. When one falls, there will always be another to fill in the empty space left behind.

Jun 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (77) skates around Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during the first overtime in game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

This was made apparent when the Blackhawks lost defenseman Duncan Keith in Game 4 due to a suspension he earned from an incident in Game 3 involving Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter. Despite being down their top defenseman, they were still able to battle on and win 3-2.

The same goes in the net. Should something ever happen to Corey Crawford, Ray Emery will be ready and waiting to fill in the space between the pipes. Emery put up some pretty incredible numbers himself during the regular season. In the 21 games he suited up for, he went 17-1-0 with a GAA of 1.94 and a Save Percentage of .922.

2. The Stars Shine Bright

While some other teams are experiencing a blackout when it comes to the performance of their top stars, (see Pittsburgh Penguins in Conference Finals), the Hawks stars have remained bright.

Jun 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with center Andrew Shaw (65) after scoring the game-winning goal during the second overtime in game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center. The Blackhawks won 4-3 to win the series four games to one. Mandatory Credit: Scott Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the series, Patrick Kane caught criticism for his lack of production and was forced to answer question after question about his lack of performance on the ice.

However, once Head Coach Joel Quenneville changed up the lines and placed Kane back on a line with his “rival” Jonathan Toews, the questions were completely different. At 11:40 in Double Overtime, Super Kane would net his third goal of the night, clinching the Western Conference Championship for the Blackhawks.

Four players have over 10 points during the post season this year. Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Kane lead the pack for the Hawks, all with 14 points; Sharp with 8 goals and 6 assists, Hossa with 7 goals and 7 assists, and Super Kane with 6 goals and 8 assists. Right on their necks is Bryan Bickell with 8 goals and 5 assists for a total of 13 points. Not far behind is Duncan Keith with 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points. To top it off, all of the aforementioned players have a plus-4 rating or better.

1. Team Chemistry Reigns Supreme

With a team filled from end to end of the bench with spectacular talent, the team has one vital element that some NHL teams find themselves lacking, team chemistry. Whether it is Sheldon Brookbank stepping in for Duncan Keith during his suspension, or Quenneville changing up the main line to accommodate the addition of Patrick Kane, or even if the need arose for Ray Emery to step in for Corey Crawford, the team would still come out on top.

Jun 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Members of the Chicago Blackhawks pose for a photo with the Western Conference championship trophy with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly after game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. The Blackhawks won 4-3 to win the series four games to one. Mandatory Credit: Scott Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

They all work so well together that you can interchange any of their parts and still come out on top. This is something that the Chicago Blackhawks proved again and again during the regular season.

There is simply no denying it, the Chicago Blackhawks cemented their place at the top of the NHL very early this season, and they kept the momentum going full force all season long. With their untouched 36-7-5 record this season, they have certainly proved themselves worthy of Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Right now, there is only one thing standing in their way; the Boston Bruins.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals starts on Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago. The complete broadcasting schedule, including dates and times, for the Stanley Cup Finals can be found here.

Do you think the Hawks have what it takes to go all the way this season, or will Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins put a halt to the Blackhawks momentum? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

 

Bolts By The Bay will continue to provide you with all the latest news and updates on the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. Check back often for Previews, Commentary, and Game Reviews throughout this final round. In just over 2 weeks, one team will hold Lord Stanley’s Cup up high, and we’ll be there is with you every step of the way.

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Topics: 2013 Stanley Cup Final, 2013 Western Conference Champions, Chicago Blackhawks

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  • Tom McQueen

    Awesome article, Tasha. I hope Chicago beats down Boston…it’s definitely going to be the hottest goalie wins!