Blackhawks on course for Stanley Cup retention

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Reigning Stanley Cup champions Chicago are looking a great value bet to retain their title and become the first side to defend the trophy since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings.

With 24 games gone the Hawks are sitting pretty atop the Western Conference Central Division with a 16-4-4 record bettered only by the Anaheim Ducks thus far.

A place in the playoffs looks a safe bet if the champions can maintain their form for the remainder of the season and from there on in the United Center outfit look better placed than last year to go all the way.

The Hawks’ mixture of youth and experience remains intact and with the latter half of that recipe now with a championship-winning season under its belt it is hard to oppose a cup repeat for Joel Quenneville’s men who are priced at 7/1 to lift the trophy.

Goal tender Corey Crawford, while not boasting the best stats so far, is growing in stature between the Chicago pipes and with 15 wins to his name no one in the NHL can lay claim to more victories this year.

Captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane are also both in fine form again and with 11 and 12 goals and 12 and 13 assists respectively both rank in the top 15 for points.

The biggest threat to the Hawks’ hopes appears to be Pittsburgh, with the Penguins spearheading the Stanley Cup market at 13/2.

Pittsburgh had the better of the Blackhawks in their two preseason meetings – running out shootout winners on both occasions – but with the first proper encounter between the pair coming at the United Center in March next year Quenneville’s men have plenty of time to prepare.

The Penguins top the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division but with nine defeats to their name already Dan Bylsma’s side have already shown enough frailty to suggest there is better value to be had elsewhere.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.