Their head coach: Joel Quenville, who the former Avs management decided in 2008 didn't have the tools necessary to make it as a head coach in the NHL. Since then, Quenville has won the Stanley Cup on three separate occasions as head coach of the Blackhawks. Good move, guys. Quenville does have lots of Colorado ties, as he was an assistant coach when Colorado won its first Stanley Cup in 1996. He also played for the old Colorado Rockies for three seasons from 1980 to 1982, and was with the franchise one more season after its move to New Jersey in becoming the Devils of present day.
Their captain: Jonathan Toews, arguably the best leader in all of hockey. Toews also has some Colorado connections, specifically to the Avalanche's glory days. Toews grew up a diehard fan of the Avalanche and idolized Joe Sakic. There is a reason, after all, Toews wears the number 19. It's not an accident. He is the modern day Joe Sakic of the NHL in terms as both a player and leader. There's no one who's more like Joe Sakic now than Toews, and while no one can ever replace Joe Sakic, Toews is about as close as we'll ever see. The 3rd overall pick in the 2006 draft from North Dakota has been one of the league's best players since he entered the professional ranks, and three Stanley Cups in a six year span when you were the captain certainly helps back that up.
Their 15-16 season: They were the 5th best team in the league and wound up being the "road team" in their opening round series which came against the 3rd best team in the league. Not that I'm one to feel sympathy for the Blackhawks, but if there is a reason to argue against this new playoff format the league's been using, here's the case and point argument. That Hawks-Blues series was one of the best all-around playoff series I've ever watched. I have friends in Kentucky who don't watch hockey that told me each game of this series was a must-watch. Game 7 was majestic, and served as an epic conclusion to the best overall series from last year's playoffs in my opinion. Chicago's run for a second consecutive Cup did end that night, but they were once again one of hockey's best and most dangerous teams.
How did they do against the Avs? Colorado won the first meeting in United Center when Blackhawks-mania across the NHL's social media pages were at an all-time high. Patrick Kane was riding a massive points streak, the Blackhawks were winning just about every game at that point, and the Avs came in and won 3-0. It was beautiful. Maybe my favorite Avalanche win of last season. The next three meetings, however, all went the Blackhawks' way and stopped what had been a good run of Avs' victories over the Hawks, as Colorado surprisingly has had Chicago's number the last three seasons.
When do they play the Avs this season? In Chicago on November 3rd and December 23rd, in Denver on January 17th, in Chicago on March 19th, and in Denver on April 4th.
Will they be good? They will be fantastic and it will piss me off because all I want is for them to fall off the map and be a bad team again because I'm tired of them being so good, but it won't happen. Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Artemi Panarin, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and the sometimes good Corey Crawford. This is going to be a Stanley Cup contender again, but I don't think they will win it. I'm predicting they lose in the Western Conference final just because their defensive depth is a bit of an achilles heel. I think they can make a deep run even with that lack of depth, but I don't foresee them winning it all and overcoming it completely.
3 Questions with their SB Nation blog, Second City Hockey: 404