After getting played with by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 5-1 and 5-2 losses, the Chicago Blackhawks have a chance to show where they truly stand as they play against a dark horse in the division.
The Blackhawks lost games to the Tampa Bay Lightning quite handily, but they’re a team who looks to run over the division anyway. The games where the Chicago Blackhawks can show where they really stand are coming up against a middle-tiered team in the Florida Panthers.
They have a legendary coach in Joel Quenneville, yes, but the Panthers do not have offensive threats up and down their lineup as the Lightning do. They have a couple of high-quality forwards in Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. They also added some depth in the offseason by signing a few middle-six forwards such as Noel Acciari and a top-six forward in Anthony Duclair.
They also traded for Patric Hornqvist, but I honestly don’t know how much of an impact he will have. The forward group for the Panthers is middle-tiered at best and the defense is no different. The Panthers have not played a game yet, so there’s nothing to go off of strategy-wise on their end. But they deploy a Quenneville zone defense, so they’re already better than the ‘Hawks in the defensive end.
The Blackhawks have a chance to show where they stand
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Sergei Bobrovsky is a dark horse where he could carry a team as he did in 2019, or decide to never show up as he did in 2020. The Chicago Blackhawks do not have a solid goaltender (they don’t even have a mediocre goaltender at the moment) but if Bobrovsky decides to not earn his contract for a second straight year then the Panthers won’t either. If there’s still bitterness over Brent Seabrook’s horrible contract, let’s look at Bobrovsky’s 10 million per year until 2027 contract to feel a little bit better.
And the Chicago Blackhawks just look lost.
They are extremely shaky when it comes to strategies and execution. The goaltenders are shaky in their fundamentals and the D isn’t exactly the best in the league. The forwards are promising, but there’s nothing they can do if they have to keep scoring 6 goals a game to win and the D can’t do their job.
I said a few times that the season all depends on how well the goaltenders play and up to this point, the season looks quite bleak. They really did look like an AHL team against the Lightning, but they have a chance to show that they can still play and win in this division.
The Blackhawks have an opportunity to show the management where they stand in the league tonight and they better make the most of it. They hit the ground “running” against the Lightning (schedule-wise, not game-play wise) and have a chance to pick up a couple of wins here.
"Counting down the days until the Chicago Blackhawks next game vs TBL"
It’s hard to really pinpoint where they are as a team when they play Cup contenders right off the bat, so these upcoming four games should give us a better idea of where they stand. If it’s a close game, then the Blackhawks are a not good team but an okay team. If they lose the game, then… They’re not good or okay. They’re just bad.