3 Blackhawks bright spots in 3-game losing streak


Yes, the Blackhawks are off to an 0-3-0 start for the 2020-21 season. Yes, they've been outscored 15-5 in those three games. Yes, they've given up the first goal in every game so far. Okay, yes to a lot of things.

There are issues and we knew there'd be. After the Hawks chose to part ways with goalie Corey Crawford and focus on developing younger players — including in net — it was obvious the Blackhawks players and coaching staff would have their work cut out for them moving forward.

But alas, as the kinks get worked out, there are some positives that have emerged from the first three games which could begin to pay off for the Blackhawks:

The kids are alright

First year NHLers Ian Mitchell, Pius Suter and Philipp Kurashev are far from the Hawks' biggest problems. In fact, the three are already making a positive impact on the team.

Mitchell, 22, is a smooth skating D-man who looks to be a mainstay through three games. He hasn't made any egregious errors yet, which is great news for a young Hawks defenseman. The team could also begin to lean on him a little more as sophomore blueliner Adam Boqvist tries to find his poise and confidence.

Suter, 24, earned his first NHL point in the third period of Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers when he won the faceoff that led to Connor Murphy's then game-tying goal. Suter thought his first point came earlier in the game when he fed Patrick Kane the puck on a spin-o-rama for a goal that was disallowed. The Swiss forward also got off a between the legs shot in a contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning already. There's no doubt he has some serious skill, which could be the reason he's been logging time centering the top line between Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane.

Phillip Kurashev, 21, has helped generate several scoring chances and boosted the Hawks energy a bit since making his NHL debut on Friday in Tampa Bay. He and Suter just need to bolster down their defensive game to be key players and contributers for the Hawks moving forward.

The cat is back

One of last year's biggest disappointments — Alex DeBrincat's offense dropping off — seems to be a thing of the past early on. The 23-year-old winger already has three points (two goals, one assist) in three games. The Blackhawks will need DeBrincat to keep up the offensive production with Jonathan Toews (medical issue) and Kirby Dach (wrist injury) slated to miss significant time.

Don't write off new goalies yet

Seeing that the Hawks had 15 goals against them in their first three games, one may think there's been some atrocious goaltending from Malcolm Subban and Colin Delia to begin the year, but that's not the case. 

Subban got the first start of the year at Tampa on Wednesday, and Delia was in Friday against the Lightning and Sunday against the Panthers.

Defensive breakdowns, several of which were near the crease, have led to some unfortunate breaks for the goalies. Delia was a victim of this on Sunday. The first Panthers goal came 12 seconds into the second period when a puck deflected off a glove and off a stick to get past him. Then a little over five minutes later, Delia got bumped by his own defenseman, Nikita Zadorov, causing him to be down and out of the crease to allow the next goal. Later, Patric Hornqvist's goal to make it 4-2 came from a deflection off Hawks D-man Calvin de Haan's stick that sent the puck through Delia's five-hole. 

Chicago blueliner Connor Murphy talked about the team's defensive woes and helping out the goalies more following Sunday's loss.

"Around our net is a big part of it, I don’t think right now we have the right intensity that we need, that’s definitely including all of us D, and it can go as far as forwards winning battles, too," Murphy said. "That’s one thing. And then I think just some puck play and some breakdowns. You can kind of have a breakdown but you’ve got to know how to manage that chance or that play. We don’t seem to be doing a very good job of that as a team. Those are two areas. We’ll look over things and we’ll definitely be better."

Have the goalies been great? No. But they have had good periods and have made some tough saves. Let's see what they can do with a better team game and less defensive breakdowns in front of them.

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