CHICAGO – As the Blackhawks begin their path towards rebuilding, one of the biggest questions they’ll have to answer is in the net.
Over the course of the 2021-2022 season, the Blackhawks got to have a look at two potential long-term goaltenders in Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia. Since the trade of Marc-Andre Fleury to the Wild, it’s been those two goalies who’ve gotten the majority of the time.
Frankly, it’s been rough for the former, who came into Monday’s game with the Flyers with a 6-15-6 record with a goals-against-average closer to four than three.
But Lankinen was able to enjoy a night of strong play between the pipes in what’s been a rough season for himself and the rest of the Blackhawks, and his efforts led to a win as the final week of the campaign begins.
The goaltender stopped 33 of the 34 shots that he faced at the United Center on Monday to help his team beat Philadelphia 3-1 in their third-to-last game of the 2021-2022 season. It equals the fewest amount of goals that Lankinen has allowed in his 28 starts over the last six months, with the last one-goal performance coming in the Blackhawks’overtime win over the Predators on November 7th.
“It feels great,” said Lankinen of the performance. “You work hard, you put everything on the line every single night, but sometimes you just want to get the result, too, to get that confirmation that you’re doing the right thing.
“So I’ll definitely take this one, learn from this, then move on.”
Erik Gustaffson’s third goal of the year and Jonathan Toews’ 12th in the first period would provide all of the support Lankinen would need. Only Kevin Hayes would beat Lankinen on the evening, doing so after the two goals, but the Flyers wouldn’t score again.
The goaltender is seeing extended minutes after the trade of Fleury to the Wild, starting in 13 games and appearing in relief in the 14th. In ten of those 13 games, Lankinen allowed at least three goals. Yet Lankinen has taken pride in his progress as he continues to
“The first three-quarters of the season being able to learn from one of the best goalies to ever play in the position and now the last quarter kinda carrying the load myself,” said Lankinen. “I’m happy with the way that I’ve been performing on a nightly basis, playing night after night, and I think my game is where I want it be now.
“Obviously, I can obviously work on things, but I’m pretty happy with the progress we’ve been making with Jimmy Waite this year. So, like I said, I can’t wait to end the season on a good turn.”