Blackhawks among Stanley Cup contenders
April 5, 2013
For a treacherous 113 days players and fans waited for an agreement between the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) on the percentage of hockey-related revenue players should receive. The 2012-13 season would commence when a settlement was reached on Jan. 6, paving the way for a 48-game season.
For most Chicago Blackhawks fans, this postponement was an agonizing experience as players like Patrick Kane traveled to Europe while negotiations stood at a stand still. Fortunately on Jan. 19, the Blackhawks opened their season by defeating defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, 5-2.
This win kick started Chicago’s season, as the Blackhawks reeled off 24 consecutive wins, breaking the NHL record of 16 held by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks. The impressive run of success included a new franchise-record 11 consecutive victories.
As the postseason approaches, the Blackhawks lead the Western Conference with 27 wins and five losses, giving Chicago a two-game cushion over Anaheim, which stands at 25 wins and seven losses. The Pittsburgh Penguins lead the Eastern Conference with 28 wins and ten losses.
With 13 regular-season games remaining, the Western Conference standings have gotten much tighter. The Blackhawks look to stay ahead of the Ducks, who have defeated them three times this season.
Looking ahead, Chicago’s biggest competition for the Stanley Cup seems to be Anaheim and Pittsburgh. As the Ducks hold strong, Chicago and Pittsburgh look to regain key players before the playoffs begin. The Blackhawks anticipate the return of both Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, who have each sat out the last six games with upper body injuries.
As the end of the season nears three things are certain: aggressive offense, defensive physicality and getting Kane the puck will be vital if the Windy City looks to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup at the end of the 2012-13 season. The ‘Hawks face the Nashville Predators this Saturday.