In the words of famous fictional Chicagoan Ferris Bueller, “life moves pretty fast.” In the earlier part of this decade, the Chicago Blackhawks were the toast of the town, finally ending their Stanley Cup drought (1961) by winning it all in 2010.
They then followed it up by repeat performances in 2013 and 2015. In the process, they became “America’s team,” hockey wise. Since 2015 though, they haven’t even advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Two first round exits were followed by two failures to even reach the postseason. As such, not many are high on the Hawks’ hopes this season.
However, if you take a closer look, at the free NHL picks and predictions you might find a tremendous value on Chicago Blackhawks postseason pricing. Some places are backing their playoff odds at even. That seems like a great opportunity to pounce upon given the free-agent signing of goaltender Robin Lehner.
He was a Vezina Trophy level performer while he was with the New York Islanders, and when you add him to a Blackhawks team that has had no issues scoring goals, it could be enough to turn the tide. Corey Crawford has won a lot of hardware, and he’s a warrior for sure, but it’s Lehner’s time now.
And the Hawks window to do something remains open, as long as they still have their core nucleus from the championship seasons (and they do). Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the top two forwards on the Stanley Cup winning teams, are still here. As are the two best blue-liners, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Don’t forget some key role players from the title years, Andrew “Shawzer” Shaw and Brandon “the Saadfather” Saad, are still around too.
The odds of the Chicago Blackhawks reaching the Stanley Cup final are very long, as they should be. However, it is reasonable to expect the team of the 2010s to return to relevance this year.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.Follow paulmbanks