2009 NHL Preview: Chicago Blackhawks

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the Chicago Blackhawks…

Team Play: ISSUE – It’s all between the pipes, baby. Going into the free agency free-for-all which began July 1st, it seemed the Blackhawks’ plan was to trade goalie Cristobal Huet (who has three years remaining on his contract) and re-sign Nikolai Khabibulin (who was an unrestricted free agent). The ‘Hawks found no takers for Huet, and “The Bulin Wall” signed with Edmonton. Thus, Chicago enters the 2009-10 season depending heavily upon a goalie who was deemed second-best going into last seasons’ playoffs. As I mentioned in a post earlier this summer, the ‘Hawks can only hope Huet is able to rediscover the magic of his thirteen-game run with the Washington Capitals at the end of the 2007-08 season, in which he put up all-star numbers (11-2, 1.63 GAA, .936 sv%). Simply put, Huet must consistently play at a level which gives his teammates confidence. When a team lacks confidence in their goalie, they tend to go into a defensive shell, playing much more conservatively than normal. The current Chicago Blackhawks squad is not built to play a conservative, defense-first, don’t-take-chances type of game. If a lack of confidence in Huet causes the ‘Hawks to attempt to play that style of hockey, the season will be a miserable failure.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

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