At the start of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks dropped their first four games, two against the Lightning and two against the Panthers. Things have changed, not just since a few years ago, but also from the start of the year.
This past week the Blackhawks played the Lightning on Tuesday losing 7-4 and they played the Panthers last night losing 4-3 in overtime. While the team is still losing some games against great opponents, they are not giving up and they are competing throughout the entire game.
After losing 5-0 and 5-1 against Tampa Bay to start the year, if you had told me the Hawks were going to hold their own and lose 7-4 against Tampa later in the season I would have said you were crazy. This team is improved and they are not giving up as quickly anymore.
This year was never about making the playoffs or putting up tons of points in the season. It was about the development of the young players and acquiring some young assets along the way. They have done that for the most part and should be feeling pretty good going into the offseason.
The Blackhawks played with their emotions on their sleeves last night and it showed up on the ice.
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There were a few times where Kevin Lankinen got upset in the game. On one of the Panthers’ goals, he thought there was a little goalie interference and fans could see his disappointment after the loss. While outbursts might not be something to do every game, Lankinen’s disappointment in my mind shows he believes he can do better.
The Hawks lost 4-3 against one of the top teams in the central, and yet they still know they can do better. Lankinen did his best and gave the Hawks a fighting chance, but there is nothing you can do when a team like Florida puts so many shots on the net. The Hawks defense and special teams needs to get better to not give up so many bad opportunities in front of the team’s goalies.
Lankinen has not had the best stretch of games the past month, but honestly, that should just motivate him even further this off-season to get better and work on his game. The Hawks are back in action tomorrow night against Florida for their final matchup against Quenneville of the season.