The Chicago Blackhawks season ended without a trip to the postseason, and it was a year where the team finished sixth in their division 11 points out of the playoffs. Yet it was a pretty good season for the team.
The Chicago Blackhawks finished their year with a record of 24-25-7, but some players had terrific years.
This was a season of youth in the Blackhawks lineup as many rookies played in their first game, scored their first goals, and overall just took significant steps forward with the organization. It was great to see a handful of players go from just prospects to full players with the team.
So a season-ending without a playoff appearance for the third time in four seasons, how was it a successful year?
Malcolm Subban, Kevin Lankinen, and Collin Delia were given an incredible task when the season began. They had to be a goalie on a team that did not play defense that well. They also had to follow Corey Crawford as the new starting goalie – not a fun task for anyone.
Subban and Lankinen controlled the net for most of the season, with Lankinen being the most likely goalie to be a full starter next season unless outside talent is added this off-season. Chicago’s goalies were not amazing, but they were pretty good, which is a reason for hope.
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The blue line saw many different faces at different points throughout the season, and while plugging guys in every night and just hoping something will work before moving onto the next game might not be a winning strategy, it worked this past season.
Now the team can go into 2021-22 with an idea of what some of their different defensemen are made of. After that, it is up to the team to decide which rookies they want to move forward with and which they want to play in Rockford/trade away for a different position prospect.
Guys like Brandon Hagel, Pius Suter, and Philipp Kurashev really stood out to me this season. The three of them played in their first season in the NHL, and at times they were excellent. Suter played with DeBrincat and Kane throughout much of the season, and assuming he is brought back this next season, I could see him playing with those two again.
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Many of the rookie forwards thrown into the lineup had some good sparks of play this past season. While the year ended outside of the playoffs again, many expected it to be a much worse finish for the team. Now they have a little bit of comfort in knowing despite missing key players like Jonathan Toews, and they were still competitive.