What? Me? Worried? Couldn't Be - Blackhawks 3, Blue Jackets 1

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What? Me? Worried? Couldn’t Be – Blackhawks 3, Blue Jackets 1

Chicago Blackhawks

After a COVID-19 scare on Saturday morning, the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets were able to complete their first two-game series of the season. Somehow, the Blackhawks were able to put those distractions behind them for the win – a 3-1 final over the Blue Jackets to split the opening series.

Chicago moves to 3-4-3 for the year.

It was a much better start from the Blackhawks who desperately needed one after losing Nicolas Beaudin and Ryan Carpenter to the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol list. Reese Johnson and Matthew Highmore were inserted into the lineup and the Blackhawks went back to the traditional 12 forwards and 6 defensemen lineup (after having 11 and 7 the past few games).

Johnson wasn’t too bad in his first taste of the NHL, playing his fourth-line role well and finishing checks/being hard on the puck-carriers. He played 10:55 minutes with one shot on goal and was credited with a team-leading seven hits.

Kevin Lankinen made his sixth start this season, which was also his sixth in the last seven games for Chicago. He’s quickly become the workhorse in net for the Blackhawks, and after making 32 saves on 33 shots, has won his third game of the season, earning points in five of his six career starts. Lankinen has also allowed two or fewer goals in each of his last five starts. I really don’t want to be jumping the gun, but it feels like he may have it in him to be one of the most outstanding NHL rookies this season.

He’s off to a great start, even if the Blackhawks as a whole are not.

Another rookie making a mark for the Blackhawks this season has been Pius Suter. After a string of quiet games, Suter got back on the scoresheet with the 2-1 goal in the third period, giving him his fourth goal on the season.

Patrick Kane has been a thorn in the side of the Blue Jackets over the past nine meetings between them and the Blackhawks. With a goal and an assist tonight, Kane now has nine points over his last nine games against Columbus. He and Philipp Kurashev have been building a great offensive chemistry over the past few games having been paired with each other.

Kurashev got on the scoresheet in the opening period thanks to some slick passing from Mattias Janmark and Kane, his new linemates. Kurashev being named the No.1 center for the Blackhawks had to be very far down the list of possibilities this season for Chicago. But if you had any money on that kind of bet, go pick up your winnings and buy yourself a nice private island. The line worked well tonight and will likely get another go around in the next series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Speaking of Janmark, he’s starting to grow on me as a member of the Blackhawks. Earlier this season, I did a bold predictions piece where I said that Janmark would for sure be getting traded by the trade deadline. After seeing his chemistry with Kane in the past few games, it seems like his offensively abilities are beginning to expand.

Maybe he’s more valuable to Chicago in the lineup than as a trade piece in the long-term? Who knows?

Final Thoughts

•   After the canceled practice and having Ryan Carpenter and Nicolas Beaudin land on the COVID protocol list, no new Blackhawks were added to the list on Sunday prior to the game. Which is a small victory in the battle away from the ice of keeping players and staff as safe and healthy as possible.

•   Chicago went 0-for-2 on the powerplay tonight. After a red-hot start to the year, The Blackhawks man-advantage has slowly come back down to earth. Luckily tonight, as has not been the case for much of this early season, they were able to create offense at even-strength. Enough to get a well-earned victory.

•   On the flip side of special teams, the Blackhawks were 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill tonight. They have killed 11 of their last 12 powerplays against them.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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