Editorials

Defense needs to be better in front of the Blackhawks goalies

By Jimmy Lynch
Chicago Blackhawks, Nikita Zadorov #16 Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks, Nikita Zadorov #16 Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks goaltending has been spotty through the first four games of the series. As the ‘Hawks go out trying to find their first win of the season, they need to be better in front of their goalies in the net.

So far this season, the Chicago Blackhawks are averaging 33 shots on goal against. That number doesn’t seem too bad when looking at last season, Chicago was leaving Lehner and Crawford out to dry allowing opponents to put up crazy shot totals. Still, for the untested goalies Chicago has, they need to be better in front of them.

It starts with the defensive structure. The Blackhawks have 34 blocked shots thus far this season, and that number needs to continue to grow. Blocking shots will limit scoring chances against, and that is something this team needs.

The ‘Hawks can not leave their goalies out to dry this season. Chicago can not let their opponents continue to get second and third shots on goal during one drive, as it will definitely end up in the back of the net. While some of the goals have been on the goalies’ hands thanks to them having bad rebound control or losing sight of the puck, at the end of the day, the ‘Hawks need to be in front of the net, helping to keep the slot clear.

I remember a particular play last night in which Ian Mitchell pinched up ice in the offensive zone, trying to keep the puck in. Then all of a sudden, it got past him and led to a goal for the Panthers. Mistakes like that will happen a lot this year, and while that is alright, the team can still improve their defensive play.

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The Chicago Blackhawks need to be better in front of their goalies.

Five goals against every game is not something to strive for. Chicago is not going to be able to win games if they continue to give up five goals. While the goalies have given up some rather weak goals, the team can do better by not giving up as many odd-man rushes and not taking as many penalties. Chicago has already given up five goals on the penalty kill, which is 25% of the goals against this season for the team.

Hopefully, the team can do a better job in front of their goalies during the coming weeks. Yes, none of these netminders needs any excuses for how they have been playing, but at the same time, Chicago can give up fewer goals simply by not making as many mistakes.

More so than ever before, mistakes are going to cost the Blackhawks on the scoreboard. We can expect to see breakaways and odd-man rushes end in goals a lot this season, and we saw it last night against Florida.

Heading into the next game, which goalie do you think has the edge in the net? Kevin Lankinen definitely will get the start, but it is not like this competition is over by any means. This season will see a lot of back and forth between all of the goalies.

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