Chicago Blackhawks: Kevin Lankinen needed that strong finish

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Kevin Lankinen made the final start of his 2020-21 season last night against the Dallas Stars. He saw his Chicago Blackhawks team score four in front of him which always helps but he needed to play well for his own personal well-being. He made 37 saves on 39 shots to earn his 17th victory of the season. His record will end at 17-14-5 which is really nice for a rookie goaltender. He sort of struggled in the middle part of the season so it was very important for him to go into the offseason feeling good.

Kevin Lankinen was good for the Chicago Blackhawks in his final game of 2020-21.

Saying he struggled to end the season is an understatement. He was actually one of the worst goalies in the National Hockey League for a stretch there. That came after the early part of the season where he was in the early Vezina Trophy conversations. Water levels out eventually so it is hard to predict his future as an NHL starting goalie.

He finishes the year with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. Those are pretty good numbers for a rookie that plays on a team as badly defensively as the Hawks. Again, saying they’re bad defensively is an understatement. There is a case to be made that they are the worst defensive team in the NHL. When you combine that with Lankinen’s struggles, it makes perfect sense why they fell out of the playoff race.

They gave Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban some starts down the stretch while Lankinen struggled. That was good for him because it isn’t easy to play in those situations, especially when the team in front of you gives no help whatsoever. Going into 2021-22, Lankinen is sure to work hard on his craft and be ready for next year.

There is a good chance that the position of goalie is emphasized by the organization during the offseason. Is Lankinen the guy going forward? Is he a really nice backup? Those questions should be answered by the time we reach the end of next season. You would think that the Hawks give Lankinen a good look in 2021-22.

Hot. Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat are not Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. light

Finishing strong is important for a lot of Blackhawks players but it is always extra important for the goalies. Lankinen is done as Delia will get the last start tonight against the Dallas Stars in the season finale. It has certainly been an interesting year for Lankinen but he has to be happy with it overall. It would be nice to see him get some top-10 votes for the Calder Trophy as the League’s top goalie.