Two games into the 2020-21 season and the Chicago Blackhawks are looking at an aggregate score of 10-3. The three of course being Chicago’s pitiful offensive production. You can’t pin all that just on the goalies, but both starters have let in five a-piece. Now what? With more than two goalies in the organization, who starts game 3?
Just based on the two games we’ve seen the Chicago Blackhawks play, it would likely need to be Malcolm Subban. He let in five, but most of them weren’t really his fault or anything he could have saved. His game against Tampa Bay was mostly OK, but between him and Collin Delia, Subban looked better.
Delia is a competent goalie, but he’s shaking off the rust. He made a few terrible errors, and just looked off. Falling in the crease? Ouch. The thing is, that’s such a silly error that it just feels like an anomaly. How often do you see goalies flub a play like that? He won’t let this one game get to him, but he has to know it wasn’t his best performance.
On the surface, it really likes you could flip a coin to decide the matter because the raw numbers look so similar.
Subban, game 1
Delia, Game 2
Delia ended with a slightly higher SV% at .865, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. He simply made more errors than Subban. This brings us to the kind of questions we’ll be asking all season:
Do you play the guy who let in more goals that weren’t going to be stopped, but still let in too many to give his team a chance?
Do you play the guy who made silly mistakes that cost the team on the scoresheet, with the understanding (meaning hope) that he’d probably work hard not to make those kinds of mistakes again in the next contest?
Then again, there’s a plan “C”, Kevin Lankinen. He’s going to get starts this year, but his first probably won’t be against Florida. Unlike Chicago, the Panthers will be pushing for a spot in the postseason. Lankinen has zero NHL experience, and it might be best to wait a few more days when Chicago plays against fellow Central Division basement-dwellers, the Detroit Red Wings. For a guy who has never played in the NHL, it would be better to give him a start against a team Chicago has an actual chance of beating. Additionally, according to CapFriendly, Lankinen’s contract is still waivers exempt so they can move him back and forth from the taxi squad without penalty.
The real competition in the net is going to be between Delia and Lankinen anyway. Chicago can’t carry this many goalies into next season. Chicago has four goalies under contract. That’s a lot of players to keep track of. So far, the competition is a tie, and neither candidate has really stood out.
This will sort itself out, but Subban should be the man in the net tomorrow against Florida. Subban made fewer errors, and by that logic alone, they should play him next. “Play the goalie with the hot hand,” or as close as Chicago can come to that reasoning this year. Hopefully, Subban can keep the team in the game and he, and the team, records their first win of the season.