Friday, August 24, 2007

2007-08 Preseason Foreplay: Chicago Blackhawks

It's a little under seven six five weeks until the 2007-08 NHL season opens in London, England on September 29th (blimey!) and it's time to start previewing the season. I'm starting these season previews really, really early but that's only because there's no way I can write 30 solid previews in only a couple of weeks. If I'm going to preview every single NHL team, and I'm going to try my hardest to do so, it will take all seven weeks and then some... And as you might have guessed, these aren't going to be your standard season previews.

This picture is just really, really confusing. I guess what is does prove, though, is that Bill Wurtz really is part of the evil empire.

This is the time of year where Hawks fans try to convince themselves that they have a shot, and the rest of us are left to wonder why they bother. No matter which side of the fence you're on, the Hawks are, indeed, an NHL team. Thus, I am forced to write a season preview for them.

Quick hits
  • Chicago Ice Crew girl/member/person Adrienne cannot live without "tinted moisturizer." Whatever the hell that is.
  • You probably knew this already, but the Blackhawks have the longest Cup drought in the NHL (1961). That is, unless the Senators count.
  • The team has also not won a playoff series since the 1995-96 season. That is the second longest drought in the league, behind only the New York Islanders (sigh).

Odds for the folks at gambler's an

2 to 1: Patrick Kane sleeps with at least two ice girls.

8 to 1: At the end of the season, I still won't know how to pronounce the last names of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Dustin Byfuglien.

50 to 1: The Hawks actually do make the playoffs.

Obligatory serious analysis

On July 30th, I dubbed the Hawks the fifth most improved team in the NHL this summer, slightly edging out the Washington Captials. I'm sticking with that assessment, and still believe that the Hawks are one of the league's most improved teams coming into the season. That being said, I still can't see them in the playoffs. Despite large improvement, teams very rarely go from worst to first, and the Hawks are no exception. They finished in the basement of the Central Division and were the third worst team in the West last season. They'll improve and probably jump over the Blue Jackets, but I can't see them eeking out a playoff spot just yet.

Robert Lang will prove to be a big acquistion, and if Sergei Samsonov can somehow turn things around (which he won't) the Hawks will make a small climb up the standings. Add a healthly Martin Havlat, and an impact from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, you would almost think the Hawks have a very serious corps of forwards. It's still a far cry from the rest of the conference, though. Last year, the team scored the second fewest goals in the NHL and there really isn't any depth in the forward ranks at all.

The Hawks defense was also suspect last season, but the blueline situation is looking up thanks to young guns Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Yes, Adrian Aucoin is gone, but he missed 81 games due to injury in only two years in the Windy City.

Don't forget about Nikolai Khabibulian in net, either. He may have had a down year in 2006-07, but he is still as good as they come.

Prediction: Improved? Certainly. Playoff bound? No way. The Hawks will slip in with the 10th spot out West.

The best looking ice girls in Chicago
All of them.

Previous Editions of Preseason Foreplay

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