The Chicago Blackhawks have experimented quite a bit with their goaltending position since the start of the 2020-21 season. So far, we have seen three different netminders start for the club, which includes Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Kevin Lankinen.
Strictly just looking at the numbers of these three netminders, Lankinen seems to be the best fit for the starting position. Lankinen has turned the Blackhawks’ season around by winning their first two games of the season after they lost the previous four games.
Nonetheless, let’s take a closer look at each netminder for the Blackhawks and which one out of three deserves the starting spot.
Subban is currently playing in his second season with the Blackhawks and was traded to Chicago by the Vegas Golden Knights with Stanislav Demin and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2020 second-round pick for Martins Dzierkals in 2020.
Subban had a tough start to the 2020-21 season as he allowed a total of five goals on 39 shots against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, losing 5-1.
However, there was an improvement in Subban`s second start of the season against the Nashville Predators, as he allowed three goals on 39 shots.
After the overtime loss to the Predators, Subban was asked how challenging it is to have to wait for five games between starts.
“Obviously you wanna get back in there but at the same time, I`m happy they got opportunities. Obviously, Lank`s playing his first game and then playing a couple more and then getting his first win in the NHL seeing his face with a big smile its good stuff I’m happy for him.”
Although Subban was unable to get the win last night against the Predators, Blackhawks’ fans have to feel good about his bounce-back performance. Subban will likely progress nicely with the Blackhawks at the backup position.
Delia was signed as a free agent out of college in 2017 and is currently playing in his third season with the Blackhawks. Delia had a rocky start to his 2020-21 season, allowing a total of 10 goals in his first two games he started, which came against the Lightning and the Florida Panthers.
After Delia had another brutal start against the Panthers on Jan 17, allowing five goals on 36 shots, he has not seen a start since.
Despite having the most NHL experience out of three netminders and spending some time as a backup behind Corey Crawford, if Delia wants to keep a backup position with the Blackhawks, let alone earn a starting position, he needs to have a huge bounce-back win in his next outing in net.
Lankinen was signed as a free agent in 2018 and is currently playing in his first few games in the NHL. He previously played in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs and in the ECHL with the Indy Fuel.
Lankinen earned his first NHL win against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan 22, allowing just one goal on 31 shots and finishing the game with a .968 save percentage.
After getting his first win of the season, Lankinen said it feels good to get his first NHL win and is focused on winning games with the Blackhawks.
“I just wanted to win, I wanted to win so bad I came into in here prior to the game and prepared myself to win, whatever it takes because today was the day we can turn this thing over get a fresh start at home and I think this could be the start of something good.”
Lankinen had another solid outing last night against the Preds, allowing one goal on 42 shots and finishing with a .976 save percentage. However, the Blackhawks fell short as they lost in a shootout, nonetheless earning them a point.
Disregarding Lankinen’s first game in the NHL with the young goaltender on the ice, the Blackhawks have earned at least one point, and he is one of the many reasons why the Blackhawks are sitting in third in their division.
Head coach Jeremy Colliton should view Lankinen as a serious contender for the starting goaltender position based on what he has done so far for this Blackhawks team. Lankinen is one of the major reasons why the Blackhawks are sitting where they are right now in the standings.
Nimrit Singh is currently finishing up his fourth-year at Humber College in the Bachelor of Journalism program and covers the Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers.