There was Only One Bright Spot in the Blackhawks' Horrible Back-to-Back
Despite the Blackhawks losing yet another game via blowout, Arvid Soderblom proved himself in the net.
The Blackhawks were horrible in the back-to-back, losing both games by at least four goals, the penalty kill woes continued, and the opposition scored more goals on the Blackhawks' powerplay than they did. Yes, you read that right. The Calgary Flames scored shorthanded against the Blackhawks while they scored no powerplay goals in both games.
Alex Debrincat and Patrick Kane connected for the lone goal for the Blackhawks against the Flames while Philipp Kurashev and Henrik Borgstrom connected for their lone goal against the Preds. I'm sorry, but when you only score one goal with the plethora of firepower on this Blackhawks roster, something is wrong. And there is something wrong: this team cannot finish any plays while they shoot themselves in the foot with horrible puck management. Jonathan Toews finally scored a couple goals before the year's end, but he needs to step up, as does the rest of the Blackhawks' top-six if this team wants to get on a winning streak and make up some much needed ground after gaining no points in a four-point outing against conference opponents.
The defense is struggling, as their communication and decision making in the back-to-back were horrible. Connor Murphy sent a soft pass across the slot and Erik Gustafsson attempted a blind backhand pass in the DEFENSIVE ZONE. Could this be rust? Yeah, I guess so, but the fact that this happened even before the holiday break makes me concerned. Murphy would go on to block seven shots against Nashville, but he needs to be back with Jake McCabe. That is their best defensive pairing before the break and they need to be playing together.
As the forwards, defense, special teams, AND faceoffs struggled, there was a SINGLE player who stood out this weekend. And that player is Arvid Soderblom.
Though he allowed four goals in the game against the Flames, consider that he finished with a 0.902 save percentage against 42 SOG. He kept this team in the game following a 26-9 SOG onslaught by the Flames in the second period. He looked extremely calm in net at 22 years of age, though his over aggressiveness almost costed him a few times.
With that said, Soderblom looks to be developing into a solid goaltender, giving the Blackhawks a solid top-three. Working with Jimmy Waite will only help him as he learns more about the game in North America. As we can see in the NHL, having solid depth in every position is essential for success, and the Blackhawks now have three goaltenders they can trust in the net.
Soderblom is still adjusting to North American hockey and, again, at only 22 years of age, he has a ton of time to grow and improve. His over aggressiveness isn't too much of a concern to me as his fundamentals, other than the over aggressiveness, look to be quite solid.
His positioning looks great when he's not trying to make a spectacular save, his angles look solid, and, most importantly, his mind and poise is there. He didn't look to be freaking out when he allowed a goal like Collin Delia did, moving on to stop the next shot.
The Flames peppered him in the second period but he looked to be calm and poised as during the onslaught, which is also an encouraging sign. As skilled as a player is, the mental side makes the difference between a good player and a great player. I'll go ahead and say that Soderblom looks to possess the mental poise needed to succeed in this league as a starting goaltender.
Again, skill is important and his fundamentals could improve from where he's at, but at 22 years old (extremely young for a goaltender) his mind and poise are extremely solid. A young goaltender could be overwhelmed by the momentum against him, but Soderblom looked calm as can be. In a horrible back-to-back, the Blackhawks found yet another potential gem.