With a very good effort against a very good Hurricanes team, the question stands: Could the Chicago Blackhawks make the playoffs?
*This is a huge early-reaction*
This Blackhawks team is inching closer and closer to contender status, especially with a full effort and a red-hot powerplay
Special teams could very well carry you into the playoffs, and this powerplay is firing on all cylinders here, scoring half of their goals vs Carolina. The offense is performing, their goaltending has been outstanding, and the defense has been playing much better as of late.
With quality players in the line-up, inspired play coming after the debut of Kevin Lankinen, improved systems and playstyles, and the fact they are playing in probably the weakest division in the league, this team could very well make the playoffs this year.
Lankinen was the missing piece
Kevin Lankinen has an outstanding stat sheet: 4-1-4, (prior to 6-4 win against Carolina) a 0.928 save percentage, and a 2.32 goals-against average. There’s no real flaw to his game as far as I could see: fundamentally sound, still confident in his skill, able to keep his team in games or even steal a point. As I have said a few times now, he has allowed the offense to open up and take chances on a nightly basis, unlocking the relentless style we watch consistently.
The Blackhawks don’t put up a consistent 60-minute effort (usually between 45-50 minute effort, then collapse at some point to allow multiple shots and a couple of goals against) but Lankinen was still able to steal them multiple points they probably shouldn’t have earned. This will prove to be pivotal as the qualifiers from this division could come down to the last couple of games.