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How the Chicago Blackhawks the became NHL's dominant franchise

Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

Making their fifth appearance in the Western Conference finals in the past seven seasons, two of which have already resulted in Stanley Cups, the Chicago Blackhawks are the closest team to a modern-day dynasty. How have they achieved their incredible success?

Since the 2008-09 season, the Blackhawks have been absolutely dominant. The table at right summarizes the team's incredible achievements over that seven-year span as one of the league's most successful teams offensively, defensively, in terms of puck possession, and overall. Also note that Chicago has not relied on the fleeting nature of elite shooting, goaltending or special teams for its success, areas in which they barely rank as above average.

If hockey had its own version of the Oakland Athletics, it could very well be the Blackhawks. This is the only hockey team that we ranked as being "all in" with its adoption of analytics in our ESPN the Magazine rankings this year. In an interview with ESPN's Craig Custance, Hawks general manager Stan Bowman confirmed that the use of hockey analytics has been one of the team's key advantages, but one whose details he plans to keep under wraps.

While Bowman is understandably tight-lipped about the nature of the team's statistical research, we can reverse engineer some of his high-level secrets from the results. The specific details and individual statistics are only known to those within the organization, but a close examination reveals the high-level philosophies that have guided Chicago's success.