CHICAGO – A week ago, there was some concern that the injury bug that has been rampant on the Blackhawks this season had found its way to the crease.
Robin Lehner took a hit in the loss to the Canucks on January 2nd and was out indefinitely with a right knee injury. Considering his contributions to the team this season, and his ability to keep the team close to the .500 mark, a long absence could have been a major blow to the Blackhawks’ hopes of ending their postseason drought.
In the end, however, the absence was just three games, as Lehner will return to the ice for the Blackhawks on Saturday night as they finish up a four-game homestand against the Ducks at the United Center at 7:30 PM.
Lehner enters the contest with a 12-7-4 record in his first season with the team, sporting a goal-against average of 2.92 along with a 92 percent save percentage. In December, the goalie won seven of his nine starts as the Blackhawks crept back up to the .500 mark and even over it for a time.
Returning to the net comes at a good time for the Blackhawks, who’ve lost the momentum they had at the end of 2019 as 2020 begins. They’ve dropped three of their four games in the new year, including the last two against the Flames on Tuesday and the Predators on Thursday at home.
In the latter, the Blackhawks gave up three first period goals during a slow start and couldn’t recover despite getting the deficit down to one in the final period. They’re now eight points in back of Vancouver, who owns the final Western Conference Wild Card spot, with three teams ahead of them in the chase for the playoffs.
After tonight, Jeremy Colliton’s team hits the road for three-straight games, so a little motivation against the Ducks, who are last in the Western Conference, is to be expected.
“If there’s not right now, we should have some,” said forward Alex DeBrincat when asked if there’s urgency with the team following the two-straight home losses. “These are really important, especially at home. We dropped two games, so we definitely have to come back Saturday and get a win.
“I think if we can do that, hopefully it snowballs for us.”
Getting Robin back in the net certainly helps the chances of that.