The Chicago Blackhawks faced off for the second of two consecutive matchups against the Florida Panthers last night, and while they were able to pick up a point, and Patrick Kane was able to light the internet on fire with a disrespectful backhand dagger, they dropped a fourth straight to start what could prove to be a long season ahead.
Despite out-shooting, out-hitting and controlling the faceoff circle against the Panthers, the Blackhawks have yet to address the issues plaguing the defensive end of the ice, allowing five goals in all four games so far, with rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen dropping his NHL debut. Lankinen, in having played a few extra minutes in overtime Tuesday night, is the only Chicago goaltender with a GAA below 5.00, none of whom have a SV% over .900. Not exactly a winning formula in the crease for the Windy City.
On the more posituve side of the coin, however, the Blackhawks powerplay went 100%, capitalizing on both chances, giving me hope that someday soon they could score six goals and grab a huge two points. Dominik Kubalik gave the Blackhawks the extra man unit a huge injection of the good stuff last night, scoring both of the Hawks’ powerplay goals and adding an assist later in the night.
The wonderful moment from this matchup that all Blackhawks fans are going to cling to came in final moments of the 2nd period when Patrick Kane collected a loose puck in the neutral zone, circled back to assess the situation, and went go on to disrespect the entire Florida Panthers organization for a fleeting moment of joy in Chicago. Seriously, you need to look at it.
It’s easy to rag on a team that has yet to find the win column, but I pride myself on being a foolish optimist. The huge things moving forward are going to be having healthy guys playing well, because in a shortened season, core guys like Alex Debrincat can’t be stalling out and having off-nights. With a functioning powerplay and Patrick Kane available at all times, the Blackhawks offense is going to need all of the firepower it can find given what’s going on at the other end of the ice. It’s not only the goaltending, however, as Verhaeghe’s second goal came on an absolutely wide-open net when he was left unattended (seriously, there was no one near him) on the crease following a Lankinen breakaway save. The Hawks D is losing bodies behind the play giving up far too convenient looks at the net, forcing an inexperienced goaltending staff to figure it out on the fly.
The Blackhawks are headed home for a Friday night smackdown with the Red Wings. Positive thoughts only, friends.