Predicted Scoring leader: Patrick Kane
At the moment: Patrick Kane
There’s no real surprise here. Patrick Kane is a phenomenal talent on the ice. In 15 games he’s managed to put up 20 points. That’s nuts. While it’s a shortened season, it’s entirely probable that Kane ends up scoring more than a point per game. Despite having been in the league for over a decade, he’s still making amazing plays. Check out a primary assist he picked up against Columbus:
Ridiculous. This is an example of why it’s no surprise that he’s leading the scoring for the team. As long as he can make plays like this one, he’ll be at the top of the team’s offense every season.
Predicted Starting Goalie: Malcolm Subban
At the moment: Kevin Lankinen
One of the major stories for this young season has been Kevin Lankinen. With no NHL experience whatsoever, he came in and has claimed the net as his own. The season is far from over, but the numbers don’t lie, he has shown up to play game after game after game. Lankinen’s stats, even after giving up six goals in Thursday’s game against Columbus speak for themselves.
Those numbers are absurdly good for a player with so little NHL experience. They’ll come down a bit, but for now, he’s quite possibly the top reason Chicago has been as competitive as they’ve been.
Predicted Blackhawks record for the season: 12-25-19
Actual (so far) : 6-5-4
This isn’t too far off of what I expected. The surprise is in the win column, but otherwise, it’s what I thought would happen. Even though Chicago announced a rebuild, it’s been clear that the team wasn’t going to do anything but compete. There’s obvious talent on the team, but they don’t have what it takes to close out a game, or control play enough to be a real cup contender.
Predicted Breakout star: Pius Suter
Actual: Kevin Lankinen
Pius Suter has been good, actually and he’s just one of the players that could be considered this season’s breakout star. However, with all of the new players on the roster, it’s just as easy to consider Brandon Hagel, Ian Mitchell, and Kevin Lankinen. Even veterans such as Mattias Janmark have been great. Despite all these names, it’s hard not to say that Lankinen has really been the biggest success story for the team so far.
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Predicted Top four teams in the Central: Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, and Columbus Blue Jackets
Actual, going into Chicago’s game against Columbus: Tampa Bay, Florida, Chicago, and Columbus
And yes, it’s in that order. Chicago is in third place. It seems unlikely that this will hold up, but just the same, it’s fun to see the season play. It’s a young team, and everyone is giving their all.
Predicted Stanley Cup winner: Colorado
Colorado is still a great team, even if they haven’t played in a bit because the Avalanche has had too many players in isolation recently due to the pandemic rules. Ultimately, we aren’t there yet for determining a Stanley Cup winner. This season is just goofy so far, and all over the league are examples of how things are simply not going according to plan.
Plus, COVID-19 protocol is constantly throwing things off with games having to be canceled and re-scheduled. Pretty much every team has had to feel the impact of this at some point or another, and that won’t change at any point this year. Not to mention, Tampa Bay is just dominant, and are putting themselves in a good position to repeat last season’s success.
The conclusion is that Chicago is simply better than everyone thought it would, but probably not by much. Frankly, I’m happy to be wrong, and it’s much more fun to be pleasantly surprised when I watch games. There are some out there that would rather Chicago mail it in this season and simply just be bad for the sake of a high draft pick. There’s no fun in that, and the players don’t want to lose. They want to win, and as a fan, I’m happy to keep watching them do it, no matter how unpredictable the success has been so far.