Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Lankinen, Kane Lead the ‘Hawks to a 3-1 Win

Chicago Blackhawks, Kevin Lankinen Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks, Kevin Lankinen Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Despite having arguably the most depleted roster in the league at the moment, the Chicago Blackhawks earn two points thanks to a 32-save performance by Kevin Lankinen and a 2 point night by Patrick Kane

The pandemic hasn’t been good to anyone, and the Chicago Blackhawks felt it in their game vs Columbus on Sunday night. Key players Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach were already sidelined due to injury and illness, followed by Alex Debrincat, Adam Boqvist, Ryan Carpenter, Lucas Wallmark, and Nicolas Beaudin due to COVID 19 protocol.

With six players (quality players) out, I didn’t expect the Blackhawks to win many games, so it was a pleasant surprise when they came up with a solid outing to win.

Mattias Janmark started the game well with a takeaway leading to an assist on the first goal of the game following sloppy possession by the Blue Jackets in their offensive zone. On the rush, Janmark was waiting to pass the puck to Patrick Kane, who tipped it to Philipp Kurashev for a tap-in goal. He follows this up with another chance in the first period but shot it wide of the net.

Kevin Lankinen deserves a lot of the credit for the Chicago Blackhawks win.

Kevin Lankinen‘s only goal was allowed from a multiple-chance play for the Blue Jackets, with three players crashing the net. Prior to this, he made an amazing arm-save to keep the ‘Hawks in the lead.

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He is definitely the starter for this team for the foreseeable future: composed, fundamentally sound, and confident in his abilities. The goaltending competition ended much earlier than most were expecting.

The ‘Hawks generated a ton of chances, and Elvis Merzlikins had to play well to keep the Blue Jackets in the game for a while. This is a good sign for this depleted ‘Hawks team as they should now realize that shooting the puck is the best offensive plan they could have (shocker, cycling the puck in the offensive zone, looking for the perfect shot, usually doesn’t work).

Pius Suter scored the ‘Hawks second goal of the night following a horrible play by Merzlikins where he tries to play the puck, but Suter takes it away. He fires at the net instead of holding it in the zone like this team has tried to do multiple times before, and gets rewarded with a fluky goal. The puck goes under the right pad of Merzlinkins and bounces off his left pad into the net. The Blackhawks don’t usually have “puck luck”, so this was something long coming for this team.

Nikita Zadorov was not good this game, giving up the puck for high-scoring chances against.  Alexandre Texier “picks his pocket” from his left side, and continues skating down that side. Zadorov turns and looks the other way, spinning to the right side to backcheck, but instead gives Texier even more room to work with. Luckily, Lankinen stops the shot and bails him out.

Patrick Kane’s goal was, again, a bad play by Merzlinkens. He tried to play the puck, but he messes up the play and gives it up to Kurashev due to his relentless pressure. Kurashev passes to Kane, who shoots it quickly from a couple feet away from the goal line.

The Chicago Blackhawks won the game by (finally) shooting the puck at the net at all times and capitalizing on mistakes made by Merzlinkens to score two of their goals. In all, this was a goalie win as Lankinen stopped every chance thrown at him by the Blue Jackets and bailed his teammates out form defensive mistakes. On the other side, Merzlinkens misplayed the puck on the other end, letting in goals from his own mistakes.

"Kurashev goal showcases what this season is all about for the Blackhawks"

The Chicago Blackhawks finally won a game due to puck luck and strong goaltending for them instead of the other way around. Again, with multiple quality members of their roster gone, this was a great (but lucky) win for them.

The powerplay didn’t score this game, going 1/5 over two games against Columbus, but they played with relentlessness and got to the dirty areas this game. Though the goaltending stole the show, the forward group should get a lot of confidence from this game to build upon as they play the surging Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

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