The Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks are getting ready to raise another banner as they kick off their season exactly one month from now. The Blackhawks open their season at home on October 1st against the Washington Capitals. The United Center in Chicago is sure to be packed as a new season begins. With training camp starting in a couple of weeks, there will be some things to keep an eye on.
- What will the line combinations look like after the team lost some players in the offseason?
Coach Joel Quenneville had the team clicking on all cylinders as he arranged a perfect set of lines. The team lost Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, and Michael Frolik this past offseason, so new players will have to step up. It will be interesting to see if he reunites the line of Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane-Bryan Bickell, or if he decides to mix them up.
- Who will become the team's second line center?
It's possible Michal Handzus could regain the role, but the team looks like it is heading in a different direction. Players like Brandon Saad and Brandon Pirri will probably be given a chance to prove themselves in training camp.
- How will goaltender Corey Crawford handle losing goaltending coach Stephane Waite and teammate Ray Emery?
Crawford became very comfortable with Waite and the two of them worked very well together. The team brought in Steve Weeks to fill the position for this upcoming season. Weeks will try his best to gain Crawford's trust and respect.
Crawford also developed good chemistry with Ray Emery and the two of them formed a dynamic duo in net for the Blackhawks. Emery is now with the Philadelphia Flyers, so it will be up to veteran Nikolai Khabibulin to fill his void.
- Will the team have a "Cup hangover"?
Often teams who win the Stanley Cup come out flat the next year. The Blackhawks started the 2013 season on fire, as they registered a point in each of their first 24 games – an NHL record. Though the team will most likely not start off the same way, their performance at the beginning of the season will be something to monitor.
It's getting close to that time again and the Blackhawks look primed for another successful season. We will continue to monitor any changes with the team as we move closer to the start of the season.
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