After losing the first four games of the season and allowing five goals a game, hockey fans have figured out the Chicago Blackhawks goaltending is an issue. Everybody knew the goaltending was going to the Achilles heel of the team after Corey Crawford left the franchise for the New Jersey Devils. Crawford created a goaltending issue for the Devils as he surprisingly announced his retirement ahead of the 2021 season.
The Blackhawks have been running a goalie rotation of three. Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Kevin Lankinen have each tried their hand in manning the crease for the Blackhawks. Each suffering the same fate as they all have been bombarded with shots during their appearances. How can the Blackhawks fix these goaltending issues? This is a complicated question that has no real answer.
During the first game of the season, Subban got the start against the Tampa Bay Lighting. He had a disappointing start to the season as he let in five goals while he manned the net. He faced 33 shots and made 28 saves for a subpar save percentage of .848%. Yes, the Tampa Bay Lightning are easily one of the best teams in the league as they won the Stanley cup last season but Subban did not help his case by making a couple of mistakes leading to goals.
The second goal scored by the Lightning had no business being a goal but Subban accidentally kicked the puck into the net as he was sliding across the crease. The puck was stuck to his right pad and tried pushing across the crease to cover the left post. When he slid over, the puck came loose from under his pad and was propelled into the net as Subban hit the puck during his slide.
Subban showed some promise after making an unreal save against the Lightning but overall he struggled in his first game and has not seen the crease since. Nevertheless, he does deserve a second chance. The former first-round pick by the Boston Bruins was drafted that high for a reason, and if the Blackhawks can make Subban play up to his potential then it will help resolve their issue.
In the second and third games, the Blackhawks decided to go a different way for the goaltender. Instead of Malcolm Subban, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colton decided to go with former Merrimack Warrior Collin Delia. After playing his collegiate hockey with Merrimack College Delia, was rewarded with a chance to play for the Blackhawks.
Delia has not had the desired start to his 2021 season. He has played two games one of which was against the Lightning and the other was against the Florida Panthers. In each of these games, the Blackhawks and Delia allowed five goals. In his first appearance of the season, Delia played against the Lightning. He faced 37 shots and stopped 32. It was an improvement from what Subban did, but it wasn’t enough for the Blackhawks to get the win.
In his second appearance, he faced 36 shots from the Panthers and stopped 31. Again, his efforts were not enough as the Blackhawks lost 5-2. On the scoreboard, Delia’s two appearances had been the closest contested games as they lost by three goals.
Delia is not necessarily the sole issue in the Blackhawks losses, but he is a contributing factor. Since Delia can’t seem to find his game, it will be a long season for Blackhawks fans.
In the fourth and most recent game, the Chicago Blackhawks goaltending was again an issue. They played the Florida Panthers for the second time. This time Kevin Lankinen tried his hand in the net. He suffered the same feat as the other Blackhawks goalies. He faced 30 shots and allowed five goals in the loss. This was not all his fault but allowing five goals is unacceptable for an NHL goalie. Going forward, Lankinen won’t find himself a part of the Chicago Blackhawks goaltending tandem.
How to Fix the Chicago Blackhawks Goaltending
The Blackhawks are in the midst of a rebuild so they will have a high draft pick to select a generational talent. The Chicago Blackhawks goaltending will be the main area to address in the upcoming seasons.
One such player that will definitely improve the Chicago Blackhawks goaltending is Jesper Wallstedt. Wallstedt is a Swedish goaltender that is currently playing for Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League. So far, he has played in 15 games and has been amazing. During those 15 games, he had a 1.78 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
He also participated in the 2021 World Juniors championship for team Sweden. In two games for team Sweden, he had a 2.40 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. The Blackhawks will have to use their first-round pick on Wallstedt because he is projected to go somewhere in the top 20 picks of the draft.
Another goalie prospect the Blackhawks could pick is Sebastian Cossa. Cossa isn’t as highly rated as Wallstedt but the 6’6″ goalie also shows promise. Currently, Cossa is affiliated with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. The WHL is not playing the 2021 season so unfortunately, he will not be playing this year. During the 2020 season as a 17-year-old, Cossa was fantastic. He played 33 games for the Oil Kings and had a 2.23 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.
Cossa is projected to be picked in the second round or third round. Professional scouts have ranked him to be an elite prospect and one have the top goaltenders in the 2021 draft. If Cossa ends up being draft by the Blackhawks then he will help improve a struggling Chicago Blackhawks goaltending situation.
Overall, the Chicago Blackhawks goaltending and the overall team has been a disaster so far. There is no sign of them turning it around any time soon. This season already seems like a wash as their chance to make the playoffs seems to be decreasing. Despite the gloomy look of the team right now, the future could look very promising if they manage to draft one of the world-class prospects in the next NHL draft. If either Wallstedt or Cossa is the real deal, the Chicago Blackhawks goaltending will be much improved.