Stanley Cup Finals: Chicago Blackhawks Proving the Importance of Depth


As a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, I’ve heard it time-and-time again, as I’m sure you have too. The moment that Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin have a scoring drought in the playoffs, they’re labeled as “chokers”. They’re looked at as players that can’t perform on the big stage. But, the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals should be a testament to why this logic is flawed.

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Without a good supporting cast, there is no way one or two players can carry a team to the Stanley Cup Finals. Hockey is the ultimate team sport, and while you definitely expect to see it’s stars dominate and rise up in crucial situations, individuals won’t win cups.

The Chicago Blackhawks are currently leading the Tampa Bay Lightning by one game in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals with an opportunity to win their third Stanley Cup in five years. But, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane only have three points between them in this series. How could the Blackhawks possibly be winning?

The Blackhawks have eleven goals so far through five games. Those eleven goals are divided among eight different players. Aside from goals, Marian Hossa has four assists to lead the team and Corey Crawford is touting a .913 save-percentage.

Only three Blackhawks have two goals in this series, and one of them is Antoine Vermette. You may remember that Vermette was a healthy scratch on multiple occasions for extended periods of time after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes. He has stepped up in a big way for this playoff run and added even more to an already deep team.

Tampa Bay has also shown the importance of depth on their road to the Stanley Cup Finals. Steven Stamkos has yet to find the back of the net and has only registered one assist so far in this series. But, players like Alex Killorn and Cedric Paquette have stepped up. Victor Hedman has been an absolute force on defense, and they’ve also received solid goaltending from Ben Bishop and Andrey Vasilevskiy when needed.

The Pittsburgh Penguins had similar depth in 2008 and 2009 when they reached the Stanley Cup Finals. Although Malkin and Crosby were dominant, they had players like Bill Guerin, Maxime Talbot, and Petr Sykora that scored timely goals when needed. They haven’t had that type of support since winning the cup.

If you need another example of a team that has relied too heavily on it’s stars, look no further than the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin had 9 points in 14 games in the 2015 playoffs. But, the lack of production from the rest of the Capitals proved to be detrimental.

I’m not taking anything away from Toews and Kane. And, this isn’t a discussion of which individual is better. Just remember that the next time you look to Sid and Geno when this team’s struggling in the post-season due to their lack of production, remember to also look at the team around them. Consider the type of production this team is getting from those that surround 87 and 71.

Next: Time to Increase the Roles of Crosby and Malkin

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