The Chicago Blackhawks finished the first month of their 2020-21 season with a 3-4-3 record, a record that Blackhawks fans were more or less expected with the loss of key players to injury in captain Johnathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Alexander Nylander, and Brandon Saad to the Colorado Avalanche.
Nonetheless, the Blackhawks had a tough start to the season losing their first four games down south to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, before getting their first win at ‘home’ against the Detroit Red Wings winning 4-1.
This win sparked momentum among the team as they went on to get seven points out of their next six games, after only getting one point from their first four games of the season.
3rd Star: Pius Suter Dominating the Rookies
Suter takes the 3rd star for the Blackhawks as he had a breakout start to his rookie season, as he led all rookies in the NHL in goals with four and finished fifth in points with five.
The Blackhawks` front office has to be pleased with Suter`s performance to start the season as he was signed as a free agent in 2020 and is putting up more goals than the NHL`s top prospects in Gabriel Vilardi who was drafted 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings at the 2017 NHL Entry draft, and Tim Stutzle who was selected third overall by the Ottawa Senators at the most recent draft.
In Suter`s first month in the NHL he finished with a team high four goals and 5 points for the Blackhawks.
Suter`s finest game was against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 24, when he scored his first NHL goal and also recorded his first hattrick in the NHL in the same game.
” I was happy to get the first one finally it made it easier after and then after the second one I feel like yeah you need to get the third one especially when the second is that early so I had some chances and then, in the end, it worked out, it was a great feeling”, said Suter during a press conference after his three-goal game.
Suter also made history against the Red Wings as he became the 29th player in NHL history to score his first three goals in the same game and became just the second player to do it in the Blackhawks franchise history, with the first player being Bill Kendall which was set on Dec. 17, 1933.
2nd Star: Patrick Kane Doing What He Does Best
Kane`s productivity on the offensive end earns him the 2nd star for the month of January, as he was able to produce at least one point in the seven out of 10 games played in the month of January. Kane also found himself at the top of every offensive category for the Blackhawks, tying a team-high four goals with rookie Suter, and led the team with six assists and 10 points.
However, Kane isn’t new to hot starts to start the season as this is his tenth season where he has produced double-digit numbers in points in the opening month of the NHL season. In fact, Kane went seven seasons straight from 2007-08 to the 2013-14 season putting up at least 10 points in the first month of the NHL season.
Despite that, from the 2014-15 season to the 2020-21 season, Kane has struggled to reach double-digit numbers in points in his opening month to start his NHL season as he only reached it three out of the seven seasons, with this year being the first time since the 2017-18 season.
1st Star: Kevin Lankinen Making a Name For Himself
The 1st star belongs to netminder Lankinen as he has made it clear in the month of January why he deserves the starting position for the Blackhawks in net. Not only has he been outright one of the best goalies for the Blackhawks, but finds himself in the top ten in save percentage (SV%), saves, and goals-against average (GAA) among all goalies in the NHL for the month of January.
Lankinen finished the month of January with the fifth-best SV% with .937, made the ninth most saves among NHL goals with a total of 178 saves, and had the eighth-best GAA with 1.97.
When looking at how Lankinen has matched up against the other rookie goalies in the NHL, he has shown that he is one the best young goalies in the league.
In the month of January, Lankinen led all rookies’ goalies in SV% and GAA and sits in second to Washington Capitals netminder Vitek Vanecek in wins and saves.
Lankinen has played a huge role in the Blackhawk’s success this year, as he led his team to their first win of the season after losing the past four to start the season and he has turned around the goaltending for his team.
Despite not having the greatest start to the 2020-21 season losing their first games to the Lightning and Panthers, the Blackhawks have solved their goaltending problem and have seen great productivity from their leader Kane, and their rookies in Suter, Lankinen and Philipp Kurashev.
Nimrit Singh is currently finishing up his fourth-year at Humber College in the Bachelor of Journalism program and covers the Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers.