The Vancouver Canucks were the popular pick this year. Plenty of pundits, columnists, analysts, etc. picked them to not only win the Western Conference, but also the Stanley Cup.
The changes to the Blackhawks' lineup and some key additions up front and on the blue line by the Canucks on paper looked like enough to vault the Canucks past the Hawks.
The Canucks brought in Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis to bolster their defense, a maligned group last season, and decided not to keep to trash-talking Shane O'Brien (Nashville Predators) and hard-hitting Willie Mitchell (Los Angeles Kings).
"It looks like they solidified their blue line a little bit more than it has been in the past," winger Patrick Kane said.
Manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres also give the Canucks, who return all their top players, some depth up front. Still, it's been a rough start for the Canucks. They've endured injuries and the Rick Rypien incident in Minnesota. They were without defensemen Sami Salo (ankle), Ballard (concussion) and Hamhuis (foot) and agitator Alex Burrows (shoulder) in the Hawks' 3-2 shootout win Wednesday.
Either way, the Hawks don't read too much into predictions.
"We don't pay attention to it," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It doesn't matter what people say. At the end of the day, it's two teams on the ice. You got go out there and play to see who wins.
"A lot of those key cogs [and] a lot of those guys who played great coming-out roles for us in the playoffs, it's tough when you lose guys like that. But we're done talking about last year and what it took to beat them. It's a new year and every time we play a team this year it's going to be different. New things will come out that you have to deal with and you find ways to win."