It’s been a tough week to be a Blackhawks fan. Since we last spoke, we’ve lost a game, won a game and seen a bunch of bad news on Twitter. After three individual announcements in the past week stating that the Blackhawks would be without Alex Debrincat, Adam Boqvist, Lucas Wallmark, Nicolas Beaudin and Ryan Carpenter, alongside some cancelled practices, I have to admit I was ready to pack it in. Not to mention the Hawks have been without Captain Serious Jonathon Toews and Kirby Dach for the beginning of the year. It’s not a stellar start.
Onto happier news. Despite dropping a tight Friday night matchup to a Columbus Blue Jackets squad nursing a 7-game point streak, the Hawks rolled back onto the ice Sunday and looked to correct the ship, able to do so with a roster full of holes.
Goaltender Kevin Lankinen picked up his 6th start in 7 games, once again looking to bounce back from a close regulation loss Friday night, and heading into what appears to be a number one role with the Hawks. The Blackhawks struck early on a massively well-executed odd man rush and Kurashev buried the opening goal of the contest on a perfect set-up from Janmark and Patrick Kane.
The Jackets were able to answer later in the first period with Boone Jenner finding twine, but that was going to be it for Columbus, as Lankinen was as solid as ever between the pipes, turning away all but one of the 33 shots he faced Sunday. If the Blackhawks were unsure about who’s the top guy in the crease, it is now beyond doubt, as Lankinen, with his 32 save performance Sunday, has moved his way quietly into the NHL’s Top 5 in SV% (1st among goalies with 5+ appearances) and having allowed 2 or fewer goals against in five consecutive starts.
Rookie Pius Suter was also able to net his team-lead tying 4th goal of the season on a cheeky shot from below the goal line, one that I’m sure Merzlikins wishes he could get back. Despite the poor performance in the W-L department, the Hawks have shown that there is a handful of young guys and veterans alike that are capable of creating and capitalizing on scoring chances, and I’m going to keep reminding myself that it’s a long season.
Tonight, the Blackhawks are looking dead into the face of a red-hot Carolina Hurricanes team, absolutely reeling from a devastating knockout at the hands of the Pens Twitter rep.
To add to the excitement, it was announced that the Hawks were able to immediately reactivate Alex Debrincat and Nic Beaudin from the Covid-19 protocols. Having Debrincat back in the lineup for a healthy injection of some much needed offense could not come at a better time for the Hawks, who find themselves tumbling down the standings despite a turning of the tides on defense. While the Hawks have finally figured out how to shut the door, unless the scoring improves down the stretch, these solid goaltending performances and 15-block games from the defensive core aren’t going to be helpful.
Keep the faith Hawks Nation. It’s been a tough road but we’ve had some bad bounces and a piss-poor start. The nice thing about starting slow is that you know there’s room to speed up. We have the returns of Toews and Dach to look forward to, we have Patrick Kane to lean on and we have a starting goalie who’s red-hot and a young core who is absolutely buzzing. 3-4-3 looks bad, but we’re a single point back of a team thats 5-1-0 (math is fun). The coaching staff believes that the pieces are coming together, and therefore I must believe it as well. It’s a stressful time but we can get through this together, and possibly with the help of CaniBrands CBD products. We all do what we have to, but The Morning Skate and CaniBrands have a way to make it cheaper for you now. Everything is coming up Milhouse.