Hawks Insider

4 things we learned about Blackhawks after 0-3-1 road trip

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Hawks Insider

The Blackhawks opened the 2020-21 season with a four-game road trip and came away with one out of a possible eight points.

Here are four things we learned about the Blackhawks:

1. A true open goaltending competition

The Blackhawks have played only four games and all three of their goaltenders have already gotten a shot between the pipes:

  •  Malcolm Subban started the season opener against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and gave up five goals on 33 shots for a save percentage of .848.
  •  Collin Delia started the next two against the Lightning and Florida Panthers and allowed 10 goals on 66 shots for a save percentage of .848.
  • Kevin Lankinen made his NHL debut on Tuesday, stopping 23 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .821.

It's the first time in franchise history the Blackhawks have used three different goaltenders in their first four games. This is going to be a season-long goaltending competition and it's just getting started.

2. A bunch of rookies will get a legitimate shot

Four Blackhawks rookies have made their NHL debuts this season and it's only been four games: Philipp Kurashev, Lankinen, Ian Mitchell and Pius Suter.

Wyatt Kalynuk was on the active roster and took part in pregame warmups for two of the four road games, which means he could be next in line on the defensive end. Or, perhaps, Lucas Carlsson, who played in six games last season.

Brandon Hagel, who appeared in one game last season before the NHL put its season on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic, replaced Matthew Highmore in the lineup on Tuesday. The younger guys are certainly going to get extended looks this season.

3. Scoring at 5-on-5 will be a challenge

Over the last few seasons, the Blackhawks have played high-risk, high-reward hockey. They've scored a lot, but they've also given up a lot.

The Blackhawks have allowed 20 goals through four games, which was to be expected given the youth movement and inexperience in goal. But they've scored only three goals at 5-on-5, which is an indication of how challenging it will be to score at even strength this season without Kirby Dach (wrist), Alex Nylander (knee) and Jonathan Toews (medical issue) in the mix.

 

4. Is the power play actually good?

This brings us to our next point: If the Blackhawks are going to have trouble scoring at 5-on-5, they need to at least capitalize on their power-play chances after finishing 28th in that department with a 15.2 percent success rate. And so far, they are.

The Blackhawks have scored a power-play goal in four straight games and are 5-for-12 on the season for a success rate of 41.7 percent. That clip is unsustainable, but the power play can't be a momentum-killer like it was last season. It needs to be a confidence-builder for the Blackhawks.