2. The flaws are being masked by great individual performances.
Patrick Kane is Patrick Kane. He’s an incredible talent and shows no signs of slowing down. Alex DeBrincat is also having an amazing season and looks to have bounced back from his scoring slump. And then’s rookie phenomenon Kevin Lankinen who has kept Chicago in just about every game he’s played. All of these players are excelling, and their contributions to the team are basically just bandages covering up the problems Chicago has.
The only reason Lankinen has had to make 30+ save per game is that the team in front of him can’t get the job done defensively. Amazing individual play is great and all, but this isn’t a recipe for long-term success. Chicago has a tough stretch in March, and the team’s prospects for the postseason might look different by April Fool’s Day. Mark Lazerus is absolutely correct that Chicago will need to scrape out some points in March if they’re going to the playoffs
Next month, Chicago’s flaws will be exposed. Opponents need to be forced to work for their chances, and not just by the goalie. What would the team’s record look like right now if not for the incredible success that a handful of players have had?
It stands to reason that Chicago’s record would be far less impressive. Patrick Kane has 30(!) points in 20 games. That’s nuts. Take that away, and the Blackhawks aren’t in a good place in the standings. This stat from Charlie Roumeliotis is crazy.
At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter how well Patrick Kane, or Alex DeBrincat, or Kevin Lankinen plays, the team isn’t a contender. The flaws are there, even if a few players have been able to paper over those issues. If this season hadn’t been acknowledged to be the start of a rebuild, the state of the team would be worrying.