Blackhawks Seeing Hot Starts From Some but Serious Concerns Linger

The Chicago Blackhawks started off the 2020-21 season slow, losing their first four games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. 

However, with that being said, there have been both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things that have come out of the season thus far, and you’ll find that there is a lot more bad than good. 

The Good

Despite the slow start, Blackhawks’ left-winger Alex DeBrincat has carried the load on the offensive end and is doing everything he can to keep his team competitive this year. DeBrincat currently leads the team in goals with two and points with three. 

Another Blackhawks’ forward that has been carrying the load for the team is Dominik Kubalik. Kubalik dominated in last night’s overtime loss to the Panthers, as he scored two goals and registered an assist.

Dominik Kubalik Chicago Blackhawks
Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After the loss to the Panthers, Kubalik said he was happy that his powerplay unit was able to contribute after failing to do so in the previous three games to start the season. 

“It feels good to get the goal and get the confidence back a little bit but I mean we’re happy that we can help the team a little bit because the first powerplay was scoring the last game so we switched it up a little bit, really happy that both units are doing well and that we could help the team like that.” 

The Bad

Newly acquired centre Mattias Janmark was asked during a press conference after the 5-2 loss to the Panthers if he has gotten the opportunity to build chemistry with his teammates off the ice. 

“It’s been hard because there’s been restrictions all over the place, at the hotel you can only sit three at a table during dinner and everything so it’s hard but you try to make the most of it every day you get to one another better on the ice on and off the ice.” 

Janmark spent the past four years with the Dallas Stars, and aside from training camp, these first four games are Janmark’s only experience playing on the Blackhawks’ lines with his new teammates. 

It hasn’t been easy for the Blackhawks’ offense to keep a lead this season due to their brutal goaltending as they are currently ranked first in the NHL for most goals against with 20, allowing a total of five goals in each of their first four games to start the season. 

After netminders Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban allowed a total of fifteen goals combined in their first three games to start the season, the Blackhawks went with their taxi squad goalie Kevin Lankinen. Lankinen made his NHL debut last night with the Blackhawks, losing 5-4 in overtime. 

During a press conference after his debut, Lankinen said that there is a lot to build on and felt good on the ice despite the loss

“There’s a lot to build on and I felt pretty comfortable as the game went on yesterday. Jimmy Waite the goalie coach came out to me and telling me I’m gonna start today, I felt ready, I felt good out there and I think there’s a lot to build on.”

Kevin Lankinen Rockford IceHogs
Kevin Lankinen, Rockford IceHogs (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Lankinen was signed as a free agent in 2018 and spent the 2019-20 season with the Rockford IceHogs in AHL. He finished with eight wins, 10 losses, two ties, and a save percentage of .909 to end the season with IceHogs. 

With the netminder position practically up for grabs at this point, this could be a career-defining opportunity for Lankinen as he could see potential future starts for the Blackhawks this season if he performs well. 

Blackhawks’ head coach Jeremy Colliton was asked about what direction the team wants to take in terms of the goaltending after the overtime loss to the Panthers and said he is not ready to make announced as of yet. 

“I think all three of them have had some really good moments but ultimately we don’t wanna give up five (goals) per game so its an area of improvement just like many other areas of our game 

After dropping their first two set of games, the Blackhawks will travel back home to play the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and will see them again on Sunday.

The Red Wings are coming into this Friday night’s game with an overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets and are currently standing in fifth place in the Central Division with their 2-2 record. 

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