by PuckStopsHere on 11/27/13 at 02:01 AM ET
The current first place team in the NHL is the Chicago Blackhawks. They have a 17-8 record with four regulation tie points for 38 points. This gives them a one point lead over the St Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. Chicago is the defending Stanley Cup champions. Usually a defending Stanley Cup champion team suffers from a "Stanley Cup hangover". This is a result of a shortened summer from their Stanley Cup run and the lack of meaningful games in the early NHL season. The fact that Chicago has avoided this shows how good the Hawks are.
Chicago has some significant depth. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp all are players who could legitimately be considered among the top fifty players in the NHL. No other NHL teams can offer seven players on their level. The weakness in Chicago is goaltending. Corey Crawford has never been a top NHL goalie. He has never been considered a top Vezina candidate. He has been good enough to win in Chicago, but this is largely a function of the players in front of him. Any moderately talented NHL starting goalie would likely have the same success on this team.
Chicago is a strong hockey team. They are the defending Stanley Cup champions. They are the first place team. They are clearly the team to beat in the NHL right now. It is tough to repeat as Stanley Cup champion in today's league, but Chicago has a solid chance at doing this.
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