Analysis

Quick takeaways from the Chicago Blackhawks first win of the season

Chicago Blackhawks, Dylan Strome Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks, Dylan Strome Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 with a two-goal outing on the powerplay and strong goaltending.

The Chicago Blackhawks finally won a game, bringing them to a 1-3-1 record on the season thanks to two goals on the powerplay and a solid goaltender in Kevin Lankinen. Chances went back and forth between these two teams, and both goaltenders made outstanding saves on either end. Here are a few takeaways from the first win of the season:

Powerplay on Fire

The Chicago Blackhawks scored once again, with five games in a row with a powerplay goal. Patrick Kane scored from a bounce in front of the net on the rush, then Andrew Shaw scored with a wrist shot that slowly went into the net.

These guys have found the net consistently this season, and teams may have to take more time to game plan against them, which means the Blackhawks could have to made adjustments to continue this run.

They have been great when it comes to keeping the puck in the zone to sustain pressure, and movement on and off the puck leads to higher-chance opportunities than last season where they would just stand stationary for thirty seconds.

This powerplay is loaded with options but could be even better if Dominik Kubalik was on the right face-off circle across from Alex Debrincat on the first powerplay line to give Kane two options for a lethal one-time slap shot.

Looks like the ‘Hawks want two simple options for an easy shot when Kane or Dylan Strome have the puck behind the goal line (Strome) or the half boards (Kane). They always work on the right side of the zone, so Kane is passing to his right every time. Shaw and Debrincat are right-handed so Kane’s angle leads to two easy options for a quick bumper play or a hard slap-shot one timer.

I would like to see what Kubalik can do on the first PP, but, like they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

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Kevin Lankinen impressive in the second start

In his second start in the NHL, Kevin Lankinen has been impressive in those games. Specifically, in this past game against Detroit, he was amazing: rebound control, great lateral movement, awareness on the oncoming play, etc. He made multiple huge saves to keep the Blackhawks in the lead, and they rode a 30 save performance to win the game.

Lankinen has looked sharp so far, and seeing that the Blackhawks will always play the hot-hand, he should have a few more games before Malcolm Subban or Collin Delia play to give him a rest. In the post-game interview, Lankinen says he’s been feeling confident and feeling good and that’s a great sign for the Blackhawks.

Confidence is key for a goaltender since they’re the only players on the ice who have no room to second guess themselves. Lankinen takes this seriously, and would rather take the win over individual accolades (like a shut out). He’s also 25 years old and the Chicago Blackhawks need a goaltender for the future, so he’s someone to keep an eye on as the season continues.

Penalty Kill Improves

The Blackhawks penalty kill has not done very well in the four games prior to this one but made up for it by killing all five Detroit powerplays. Ryan Carpenter also had a breakaway chance as the penalty killers overworked the Red Wings in their own zone. Outworking the opposition, as well as keeping sticks in passing lanes and blocking shots will lead to success for any penalty kill (a great goaltender doesn’t hurt) and the ‘Hawks did and had all of that this game.

Improvements?

The only thing they need to focus on is to play with a high compete level and intensity for an entire sixty minutes. They play with the lead and become passive, leading to chances against when they should be playing as if they were still two goals behind. Momentum can change a three-goal lead to a tie game in no time, which we saw a lot of last season. Detroit carried most of the action in the last half of the game and the ‘Hawks need to change this as the season goes on.

The Chicago Blackhawks play the Detroit Red Wings again on Sunday morning at 11:30 AM.

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