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Pressing Question: Can the Blackhawks avoid the Stanley Cup hangover?

Apr 15, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Getty Images

One of PHT’s 10 pressing questions in advance of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs…

The Chicago Blackhawks are the hunted in these Stanley Cup playoffs, which is really no different from their position throughout the regular season.

That’s what happens when you win the silver chalice, hockey’s Holy Grail, the previous season. Not only did they win it all, they enjoyed a record-breaking regular season, too. But that was last year.

Now, the question becomes: Can the Blackhawks avoid the Stanley Cup hangover as they look to defend their championship?

It should help Chicago’s cause that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are expected to be ready for when the post-season begins, as the Blackhawks open up against the St. Louis Blues in the first round. This best-of-seven series begins Thursday in St. Louis.

‘‘They’re going to play the way they play, and we’ll play the way we play,’’ said forward Ben Smith, as per the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘In a best-of-seven series, we’ll see who comes out on top.’’

True enough.

But while discussing the Blackhawks and that whole element of the championship hangover, it’s worth pointing out Chicago’s struggles following their last Stanley Cup victory, which came back in 2010.

That was also the year of the Vancouver Olympics, which surely put added burden on the likes of Toews and Kane, as well as Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.

The next year, the Blackhawks barely made it into the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference and were eventually beaten in the opening series in seven games by the Vancouver Canucks.

This season looked to be on a similar path to the 2013 lockout-shortened campaign. The Blackhawks were on top of the Central Division with 84 points and a 35-11-14 record heading into the Sochi Olympic break. But since then, they’ve been hardly above average or of championship caliber.

Their record since the NHL schedule resumed: 11-10-1. Some of that had to do with injuries to key players.

And now, they have a date with the Blues, losers of six straight but a team that challenged for the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular season team right up until the final days of the schedule.

“That’s what everybody wants to talk about, but we’re not going to think that we have an easier team to play against,” Toews told ESPN Chicago.

“That’s definitely not going to be the case. They’re a team that loves to play physical against us, and we’ve got to expect that. There’s no reason why we can’t return that as well. We’ll be ready to bring that type of effort.

For more Pressing Playoff Questions, click here.

  1. hockeyornothing - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:36 AM

    Let’s go Hawks!

  2. muckleflugga - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    had the hawks not been damaged, i’d say no worries

    i burned then scattered some chicken bones, consulted my familiar, worked ouija bare and i’m getting a serious sharks buzz

    tooooo much talent to be denied yet again

    sharks

  3. cfos00 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:50 AM

    Ummmm, not sure if you noticed, but Kane and Toews were injured for this recent slide. Kind of a big deal, not something to gloss over. They’ll be back for the playoffs. Also, after the last Cup win, the team lost a TON of huge players and fired their GM because of mismanaging the contracts which forced the exodus. They had to rebuild the bottom half of the roster and find a goalie. That doesn’t just happen overnight. It had nothing to do with the Olympics. That didn’t happen this year. If they lose this year, it won’t be because of some hangover. It’ll be because someone else outplayed them, and repeating in the NHL is really, really hard. Huge reach to compare the two versions of the Hawks.

    • tfilarski - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      pretty sure dale tallon was not fired. he took a promotion by becoming GM of the panthers

  4. tone360 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:33 AM

    I always thought a championship hangover meant having a down season and or not making the playoffs! If we don’t repeat that doesn’t warrant hangover talk.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      The “stanley cup hangover” is supposed to be a reference to the slump at the start of the year that most cup winning teams have. Nothing to do with the following playoffs.

      If your hangover lasts an entire season, see a doctor!

  5. muckleflugga - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:43 AM

    cfos00

    hawks are ooooozing talent, but kane and toews will be targeted as always

    if they’re actually right, possibly so given hawks’ ability to give each needed rest, they’ll be tough to beat because their speed game has no match in the west

    blues will bash and crash and pound, but wings demonstrated the extent to which that kind of hockey can be neutralized by speed

    hawks have speed to spare, and blues are clearly tailing off

    if hawks can escape an extended series with blues, then avoid kings, they’re the only team well placed to beat sharks

  6. billiam55 - Apr 16, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    there are so many good teams in the league this year. i dont see it happening. I do think however theyll beat the blues

  7. wranglerick - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    As an islanders fan, i would love to have this problem

  8. tripps3 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Yes

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