by PuckStopsHere on 11/18/11 at 04:48 PM ET
We are almost a quarter of the way through the NHL season and the first place team in the league is the Chicago Blackhawks. They have a 12-7 record with three regulation tie points. This gives them a total of 27 points in 19 games. This is not an overwhelming first place record but it is good enough for now.
Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2010 but had salary cap difficulties to deal with. They have had to part with some key talent since then including Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell. Though all of these players have potential all star abilities, they were not core players in the Chicago Stanley Cup run.
Chicago has a very good core of talented players including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Corey Crawford has been added as a pretty good young goalie. This is a very good team despite the players they have lost to the salary cap. There is no other team in the league that has a group of four players moving into the primes of their careers who are as talented as Toews, Keith, Kane and Seabrook. If they stay healthy there is no reason that they cannot be one of the top teams in the NHL.
A lot of people incorrectly wrote them off last year when they finished in the eighth seed in the West Conference last season. This was the last playoff spot and a long drop from their previous season. They were a better team last year than their record showed. They had the third best goal differential in the West Conference. Their record was hurt somewhat by a Stanley Cup hangover. That problem is gone now that they had a longer summer after a first round playoff loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
I would bet against Chicago being the eventual Presidents Trophy winner this season, but they are a legitimate candidate. They have a very good team that is currently in first place in the league. With the right bounces they could stay there, although that probably will not happen.
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