Chicago Blackhawks Season Preview Defense and Goalies

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By Paul M. Banks

When the Chicago Blackhawks take to the ice this morning (which is evening where they currently are- Finland) they will do so with two guys recently promoted into key rules. One of the guys with new responsibilities is one the ice- Goalie Cristobal Huet. The other is in the front office- GM Stan Bowman.

We’ll begin with the man who has the most famous name in hockey, Stan Bowman. The man with a finance background and a superlative hockey pedigree came to power shortly after the contract offer mailing snafu. And regardless of how well, or how poorly, he performs in his new role as GM, he has to fight off the skeptics first. He’ll face even more pressure than a regular NHL GM would, because of three reasons: 1.) The man he replaced, Dale Tallon was extremely popular with fans 2.) He took over during an off-season that was tumultuous and inherits a team that has raised the expectations of an entire city desperately thirsting for championship glory 3.) He’s young, 36, and if he makes any glaring mistakes early, all the “youth is wasted on the young” type clichés will soon start surfacing. huet

Also throw in the fact that his father is Scotty Bowman, Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the team, and the man with more Stanley Cup coaching victories and all-time coaching wins, so Stan will certainly have very high expectations to live up to.

Hey Goaltender

The second guy in a newer and more responsible role is the Frenchman between the pipes, Cristobal Huet. Can he carry the load during the season and be a lights-out goalie come playoff time? It takes a special kind of personality to play goaltender, because so much of it is in the mind. And Huet’s performances are often very much tied to his personal psychology. Despite the huge contract he signed, he’s been known to have his confidence shaken, but hopefully not too stirred when things don’t go his way. His confidence seems to be at it’s best when he doesn’t have anyone looking over his shoulder, so it’s a good thing for him that last year’s co-starter Nikolai Khabibulin is now in Edmonton. Huet played his best in Washington when the job was all his, before arriving in Chicago. And he was at his best of the 2008-09 season when the Bulin Wall was out being repaired.

“Huet looks solid, we’re comfortable with his game and his ability to win games on his own, and consistency is a good measuring stick for any goalie, and we’re confident that he can do that for us this year,” Head Coach Joel Quenneville said.

One of the backup goalies, most likely Anti Niemmi will be jettisoned just up 1-90 to Rockford when the team returns from across the pond, meaning Corey Crawford, a guy the organ-i-zation has been high on for a long time will be the backup.

Defense Contractorsblackhawks

The Blackhawks have some really good defensemen, they’re just overshadowed by the team’s well known forwards. And of course, in the video game that everyone’s been playing this off-season, they’re not rated as high as some of the top forwards. But at least in the top two pairings, you’ll find some great blue-liners. Michigan State alum Duncan Keith is the team’s MVP in my opinion. Look up Chicago’s record last year without him, as well as his team-leading plus/minus and you’ll see what I mean. Brent Seabrook is a big hitter, who’s coming close to fulfilling the high expectations that were thrust upon him. And of course Brian “Soupy” Campbell, had another All-Star season last year. Forget about his huge gaffe in game two if the Western Conference Finals, he has great speed and is good in transition. And Cam Barker is probably better than you think he is…but depth is lacking overall here and the talent level drops off a bit after him. I could foresee Bowman drafting out of need at this position for many years to come.

Chicago’s opening day roster will consist of

Defensemen: Cam Barker, Brian Campbell, Jordan Hendry, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Aaron Johnson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brent Sopel

Goalies: Corey Crawford, Cristobal Huet, Antti Niemi

In addition, the Blackhawks have assigned forwards Bryan Bickell, Evan Brophey, Jake Dowell, Rob Klinkhammer and Jack Skille to the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.

Click here for the preview/list of forwards.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    As good as they are on paper, or are projected to be…I have a bad feeling. myabe it’s just being a Chicagoan, and the way our sports teams often don’t live up to expectations, but I hope I’m wrong. I really hope I’m wrong becuase this should be a 50 win team. And the Hawks are THE BEST hope for a title in Chicago in the near future

  2. melrose and SI got them winning it all. Bad news. I know it’s only one game, but Huet did not look good.

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