2. Chicago Blackhawks
Like the Kings, many expected the Chicago Blackhawks to be one of if not the worst teams in the entire league this season. After electing to let Corey Crawford leave via Free Agency, the top two goaltenders on their depth chart were Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia, which didn’t inspire a ton of confidence. On top of that, it was also announced that Jonathan Toews would miss an unspecified amount of time, potentially the whole season, which seemed like the final blow to an aging core. However, through 21 games this season, the Blackhawks sit third in the Central Division with a record of 11-6-4, and are 8-2-0 in their last 10.
Reasons for Success: As it was for the Kings, it comes as no surprise that Patrick Kane is leading the way for the Blackhawks early on. A lack of talent to play with hasn’t hurt the 32-year-old in the slightest, as he is on fire with 10 goals and 31 points. Another player who has helped in a big way is Alex DeBrincat, who is back to looking like the 41 goal, 76-point player we saw during the 2018-19 season. Despite being limited to 17 games so far, he has nine goals and 20 points.
While those two have certainly been great, perhaps the biggest reason for the Blackhawks’ impressive start is the play of Kevin Lankinen. As mentioned above, the top two goaltenders on the depth chart heading into the season were Subban and Delia, however Lankinen has quickly surpassed them. The 25-year-old has gotten off to a tremendous start despite having zero previous NHL experience, as through 14 games he has a 2.59 GAA along with a .921 SV% and a 8-3-3 record. If he keeps this up, he has a great chance to win this year’s Calder Trophy.