Patrick Kane Is Still Eyeing the 2021 Playoffs (Bless His Heart)

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Patrick Kane Is Still Eyeing the 2021 Playoffs (Bless His Heart)

Chicago Blackhawks

Starting the season 0-3-1 before you play even a single game at home is rough. And indeed, the journey toward that record has somehow looked worse than the individual outcomes, themselves. But even though this season is starting in the hole for the Chicago Blackhawks, star forward Patrick Kane still feels like this team can push for the playoffs.

Yeah, THIS team.

A lot of things are going to have to go in different directions, fast, if the Blackhawks are going to be competing for a playoff spot.

First, they’ll have to stop giving up five goals per game (just a thought). Chicago leads the NHL through four games in goals allowed per game (5.0) and are fifth in the NHL in shots on goal allowed per game (34.0). On special teams, the Blackhawks are at opposite ends of the spectrum, ranking second in the league on the powerplay (41.7, that’s not sustainable) and 26th in the league on the penalty-kill (66.7).

When you get into the deeper analytics, Chicago is tied for the league-worst PDO (team shooting percentage +  team save percentage) with the Pittsburgh Penguins at 91.7 (100.0 is average). Meanwhile, they’re 27th in the NHL in team high-danger save percentage (.706) and high-danger Corsi-For (39.4) – Corsi represents all shot attempts for and against a team, where 50.0 is average.

But sure, it’s still early in the season, and the Blackhawks are pretty much still treating this portion of the calendar like it’s the preseason of what would have been a normal year. They are rotating three goalies and interjecting a number of young, inexperienced players into the lineup trying to see who will stick and what combinations and pairings make sense. It’s still a feeling out process and there have been positives, but unlike a normal preseason, these games count.

They don’t have the luxury to throw away six, seven, eight games to begin the season and try to turn things around to compete.

Kane is right, although they have dropped four-straight and have just one point to show for their efforts through four games, the Blackhawks are starting to trend in the right direction. They’ve scored a powerplay goal in each other their games to start the season, helping them sit second in the league. They held their first lead of the year on Tuesday against the Panthers, but it lasted only 71 seconds. The steps forward need to start being more than just baby-sized, if Kane and the Blackhawks are actually going to contend for anything.

Which, come on, they won’t.

You tip your hat to guys like Kane and Duncan Keith for their efforts this season. Kane’s still out there putting on a show and Keith has four assists in four games to start, but that can continue only if they are fully engaged in the season. If the Blackhawks continue dropping games left and right, being out-scored 5-2, 6-3, 5-1, whatever the score ends up being, you have to wonder where the perception of “contending” goes when the Blackhawks are staring at the top lottery odds in the 2021 Draft Lottery, rather than the postseason.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.