Analysis

Malcolm Subban Has to be Better for the Chicago Blackhawks

Malcolm Subban #30, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Malcolm Subban #30, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports /
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Malcolm Subban lost the goaltending battle against Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier. With the Chicago Blackhawks looking at a difficult month ahead, this was an unacceptable outcome.

The Chicago Blackhawks played a great game offensively, generating chances for on the other end of the ice. They dominated the first period, but Bernier was on point and didn’t allow the Blackhawks to capitalize on the pressure.

Unfortunately, Malcolm Subban couldn’t match him and allowed a goal off of Nikita Zadorov’s lazy attempt of a body check (yes, he ticks me off with his play if you couldn’t tell). Subban was too aggressive in the following sequence, sliding too far to the right while Bobby Ryan shot left.

Subban then couldn’t stop a wide-open shot by Darren Helm, while Bernier stopped an open Patrick Kane. Yes, Pius Suter did leave him out to dry, overaggressive on the puck battle, leaving Helm wide open in the front of the net, but he needed to stop that shot. Based on how many goals Bernier prevented on one side, Subban had to answer but did not.

Subban is a great goaltender, don’t get me wrong. But with the fact that the ‘Hawks are going into a hellish month meant that they had to win their two games against Detroit. Though Subban stopped multiple A+ chances against, he couldn’t come up with the big saves to keep his team in the game. He was overaggressive on the first goal, and couldn’t steal away the other two.

In a game where chances went back and forth, Subban had to come up with A+ saves, and steal a couple of goals away from the Red Wings. In the third period, Jonathan Bernier stopped multiple chances against him while Subban let in a soft goal.

His confidence looked to have been shaken after the second goal, and he deteriorated from there. He looks to be a streaky goaltender who plays well, but once he allows a bad goal, he overthinks too much and lets it effect his play.

There were two goals against Subban had to stop, but he didn’t and instead of the Blackhawks attempting to tie a 3-2 game late in the third with momentum shifted in their direction, they were looking at a 5-2 scoreboard instead.

My problem was not that Subban allowed those five goals. My problem is that his play deteriorated over time, and the goals against him effected the rest of his play that night. A good goaltender allows a bad goal here and there, but usually gets back into the game and makes key saves to help their team.

Yes, the defense wasn’t great, but neither was Detroit’s. They had multiple lapses in defensive coverage, but Bernier bailed them out. Subban couldn’t match Bernier’s play, and the Blackhawks lost a game they needed to win.

Kevin Lankinen got a two game break, and he will have to play fifteen of seventeen in March if the Blackhawks hope to stay in the playoff position. He has displayed that he has that “thing” that goaltenders need, which is the ability to maintain his play despite a bad goal. In the 6-5 win vs Columbus, Lankinen gave up a bad goal that tied the game.

He came back and stopped every shot in the Blue Jacket’s onslaught. Corey Crawford let in a bad goal vs Detroit in game seven in the 2013 playoffs, but he maintained his composure and played an amazing game after that.

Subban would be lucky to see the net in March after this lackluster performance on his side. He is still a good goaltender, as displayed in his 2-0 win over Columbus, but his confidence is too fragile at the moment to be a solid one.

Let’s hope for a bounce-back effort from the Blackhawks tonight in the rematch.

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