Blackhawks Goaltending Tandem Ranks Among League’s Best

On Tuesday morning, Greg Wyshynski at ESPN published an interesting article that ranks all 32 goaltending groups in the NHL.

To put together his rankings, Wyshynki says they “were formulated through discussions with a variety of goalie experts — coaches, analytics gurus, former players — as well as through stats from sites like Evolving Hockey, Money Puck and Hockey Reference.”

How did the Blackhawks new tandem rank?

8. Chicago Blackhawks — Marc-André Fleury, Kevin Lankinen

Comments: “Fleury’s career renaissance in Vegas was one of the best NHL stories of the last decade. From 2017-18 to 2020-21, he had 75.2 goals saved above average, and added 14 wins to the Knights in the standings, capping that run with his first Vezina Trophy last season. He immediately makes the Blackhawks a better goaltending team than they were in 2020-21 (.903 team save percentage). The question is how good does he need to be in order to make up for their defensive shortcomings?

“‘Am I betting on a career year from Fleury again? I don’t think so. Chicago’s one of the worst defending teams in the league. Plus, Lankinen didn’t finish well at all,’ said one goalie expert.”

Our Analysis

With all due respect to the goalie expert quoted at the end of Wyshynski’s comments about the Hawks, the “worst defending teams in the league” is a reflection of last year’s group. The Blackhawks made significant changes to their blue line group this winter, including the blockbuster sign-and-trade deal for Seth Jones. The addition of Jake McCabe is also a huge move to improve the Hawks’ back end.

Are we betting on Fleury replicating his performance from last year? Maybe not. But will a future Hall of Famer be motivated to end his career with another stellar season? Absolutely. And he clearly has something to prove after the ugly divorce with a Vegas club with which he thought he would finish his career.

Also, while Lankinen did finish the season poorly, he showed he can be a solid NHL goaltender throughout the season. A lot went wrong for the Blackhawks last year, and he was playing behind a mediocre group of defensemen. The group in front of him – and Fleury – will be much better this year.

It’s worth noting that the Hawks ranked third in the Central Division behind Colorado (fourth) and Winnipeg (fifth). The rest of the division ranked as follows: Nashville (11), Minnesota (14), St. Louis (15), Dallas (25), Arizona (32).

5 thoughts on “Blackhawks Goaltending Tandem Ranks Among League’s Best

  • September 28, 2021 at 10:39 am

    I’ll agree w/the expert at the end of the piece. Fluery slowed down at the end of the season and didn’t play well in the PO’s. As for Lankinen I’m hoping he plays as well as Darling did in his supporting role and has improved enough to take the number 1 position in case MAF stumbles.

    Can JC’s “system” work…..we’re about to find out

  • September 28, 2021 at 11:23 am

    Looks like goaltending should be solid this season. If Soderholm plays in Rfd. and looks ready for the show, plus Comesso gets his chance to no. 1 and show promise in ncaa, future in goal has potential for a number of years.

    Jones and McCabe should be a solid 1st pairing, Stillman with Murphy looked like a capable shutdown pair down the stretch last season. Having Dehaan to mentor Kalynuk, who can qb the 2nd pp unit as a 3rd pair is a luxury. Dach, Toews, T. Johnson gives Colliton 3 capable C’s to play as a 3rd dman in own end coverage. Whoever is in middle on 4th line will also offer solid d zone play. Some responsible winger play and some chemistry, with a little more grit among them as a group should help cut down scoring chances.

    Dollar Bill agree ww are about to find out if Colliton and his system are for real or not in this league.

  • September 28, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    Well said Tab the Hawks have made significant changes on the back end. The addition of Teows Johnson and a healthy Dach also helps the defense as well as slotting all players in their rightful lines.

    We will be better we will surprise I am going out right now and stating we will be 20-10 over the first 30 games. Hey no one predicted 2013 GO Hawks

  • September 28, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    It seems it’s coming down to Kalynuk or C.Jones for the 6th spot in the starting lineup … unless deHaan is shipped out.

  • September 29, 2021 at 9:10 am

    I hear so much about systems. I believe more in positional play. Creating ways to get open on offence and identify your man and cover him on defense. Players are individuals with different sets of skills. Style of play and line matching are very important in the outcomes in most games. For those who played hockey, know the game is one of both physical and psycholical intimidation.

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