The Chicago Blackhawks are currently regarded as one of the top teams in the National Hockey League, which makes it fitting that they are so close to lifting the greatest silverware in hockey.
However, the fact that four games are now gone and that hasn't happened proves that there is room for improvement on the bench.
There's no doubt that all eyes in the organization will be fixed on the cup run at hand, but after this season the Hawks will have work to do.
Looking only at Game 4, regardless of the result, we see the Blackhawks running into trouble. Lead after lead after lead was held by the Hawks, but still there was need for more than just the one lead.
One may argue that this issue was caused by the excitement on the bench, scoring a goal obviously energizes everybody on a team, but that goal is rendered useless unless the team can focus and hold their lead.
Chicago's missing piece, therefore, has to come down to their defence. Hockey is a sport in which defence isn't weighted as heavily as offence; it's the nature of the game. This is proven not only by the 5-5 score heading into overtime on Wednesday, but by the structure of an NHL line up as well - three forwards and two defenders.
However, Chicago's defence has been rather useless beyond Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, who have led from the back. In the offseason Chicago will do well to hold on to their top players, but will also be looking to strengthen the back. If this is achieved, the cup could be a certainty for the Hawks next season.
For now, however, Chicago will be looking to focus after the goals they get, and hold the leads they build. There is no question a professional coach such as Joel Quenneville should realise this, and there is no doubt Chicago will improve it.
The doubt and question comes from the time left in the Stanley Cup final. The team will be looking to strong players such as Keith and Seabrook to lead from the back and continue their domination of the NHL.
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