In the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, Lord Stanley’s Cup resided in the arms of the Montreal Canadiens more than half of those three decades. In the early 80’s, it was all about the New York Islanders. In the late 80’s, it was Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Lord Stanley tended to bounce around two locker rooms in particular, those of the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche. However, in the past 16 years, there has not been a team to repeat win for the Stanley Cup… But if there ever was a chance to break that streak, this year might be it. This year, after winning a Stanley Cup in last year’s shortened 42-game season, the Chicago Blackhawks are looking poised to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Around the Chicago area, NHL fans have been whispering a word that has not been spoken in cities around the US and Canada in quite a long time… dynasty.
After thwarting the rival Detroit Red Wings Sunday morning 4-1 in the long awaited return of Marian Hossa, the Chicago Blackhawks have a problem that most GM’s and head coaches around the NHL would take any day of the year: they have too many good players to know what to do with. After a short skid, paired with some personnel changes line-to-line, and a drop in the Western Conference rankings, the Blackhawks have just enough time before the playoffs start to remain strong and healthy. With 14 games remaining in the season, head coach Joel Quenneville has to figure out which line personnel work best with each other in order to give them one of the best one-two-line-punch in the playoffs. However, there are still a few very strong teams in the way attempting to solidify their own chances of a run- or attempting to begin one- at becoming the first dynasty in over 25 years.
Two teams in the Western Conference in particular have that very chance to thwart the poised Chicago Blackhawks chances at repeating and attempt to start their own run at dynasty status: the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings.
The St. Louis Blues:
Ever since 2010, when Dougie Armstrong took over the GM spot of the Blues, the Blues have gotten younger, meaner, and have seemingly answered all of the critics when they traded for Olympic gold medalist goaltender Ryan Miller and veteran big hitter Steve Ott. The St. Louis Blues are first in the Western Conference right now, and have led the league in “Goals For” with 223 (along with an astounding goal differential of plus-72) and now with Miller between the pipes and veteran Ott protecting the youth and talented forwards on the top lines, they have the potential of becoming a mainstay at the top for a long time.
The Los Angeles Kings:
The 2012 Stanley Cup winners have everything a team could hope for when attempting to build a dynasty: a young and proven winning Stanley Cup goaltender in Jonathan Quick; forwards either in their prime or younger in captain Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, and recently acquired Marion Gaborik; and they have star-potential defensemen in Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, and Slava Voynov. Plus, the Kings are first in the league in goals-against-per-game and that kind of production out of your defense and goaltender has proven to come in handy when attempting to make a run at Lord Stanley.
Those two teams being said, the danger that looks across from them in red, black, and white from line number one to line number four can be incredibly dangerous. The question is how will Joel Quenneville decide to pair his lines moving forward? Will it be Hossa, Toews, Saad followed by Kane, Handzus, Sharp? Or maybe Hossa, Handzus, Sharp followed by Kane, Saad, Toews? The combinations appear to be an endless barrage of talent that any coach in the NHL would love to have on their teams. So if the Chicago Blackhawks were to repeat this year, they would have won three Stanley Cups in five years and not only be the first repeat Stanley Cup Champions in over 16 years, but even possibly be poised to become the next dynasty in over 25 years.
Commentary By: Ryne Vyles