Malcolm Subban is ready to be the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender against the Oilers in the Stanley Cup qualifiers if Corey Crawford is unable to do so.
“This could of course be the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Subban on Wednesday. “For me, it’s just taking it day by day and continuing to work hard and making sure I’m ready if I get the chance.”
Crawford, un double Coupe Stanley champion with Chicago in 2013 and 2015, was declared “unfit to play” by the Blackhawks on Monday. The 35-year-old did not participate in the first three days of training camp and did not participate in Chicago Phase 2 voluntary training. He was 16-20-3 with a 2.37 goals against average, and among goalies having played at least 40 games this season, he was tied for fifth in the NHL with a save percentage from, 917.
The Blackhawks have four goalies at camp with Subban, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Matt Tomkins. Coach Jeremy Colliton rotated each of the top three during practice with the first group.
Monday: Subban / Delia
Mardi: Subban / Lankinen
Wednesday: Delia / Lankinen
“We now have a situation where we talked about open competition for a place, whether it’s the starting position or the save when we start the playoffs,” said Colliton. “The work ethic of all these guys has been good and it makes us feel good in the preparation they are making to seize this opportunity.”
Subban has the most NHL experience among the trio; he’s 30-23-7 with a GAA of 2.97 and a save percentage of .899 in 66 games (60 starts) with the Bruins, Golden Knights and Blackhawks. He was 9-7-3 with a GAA of 3.17 and a save percentage of .890 this season with Vegas before being acquired in exchange for Robin Lehner on February 24. Subban did not face a shot in 70 seconds of relief for Chicago on March 3. .
Delia is 7-5-3 with a GAA of 3.65 and a save percentage of .906 in 18 NHL games (16 starts), all with the Blackhawks, but has not played in the NHL this season. Lankinen and Tomkins have never played in the NHL.
Subban was the first goalkeeper in Chicago for voluntary training at the Fifth Third Arena. He believes that the extra time on the ice with the players and goalkeeper coach Jimmy Waite will benefit him.
“For me, especially as an explosive athlete, my stamina is what usually goes first, so I try to stay on top of my endurance,” said Subban. “We have been skating for three or four weeks and I thought I was back on all the little things. Then I got on the ice with Jimmy for the first time and realized that I still had a lot to work on. But going out and trying to fix those little bad habits that are forming and simply resuming the shape of the game each skate will help. ”