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Hawks Hits: Tough stretch continues as Blackhawks fall 3-0 to Bruins at home

Greg Boysen Avatar
October 25, 2023

The Chicago Blackhawks renewed their Original 6 rivalry with the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night, just 13 days after a loss in Bean Town. The Blackhawks had something to prove in their matchup with the undefeated Bruins and did not want to repeat the mistakes that cost them in Boston. Unfortunately, the talent gap between these two teams didn’t shrink since the Hawks last saw the Bruins, as they rolled to their seventh straight win with a 3-0 shutout.

The home team thought they struck first when Connor Bedard appeared to score his second power-play goal in as many games. However, the Bruins challenged the zone entry, and the review showed Andreas Athanasiou was offside on the play.

Paval Zacha scored the game’s first goal that counted by redirecting a Kevin Shattenkirk shot past Petr Mrazek. The Blackhawks were lucky to get out of the sandwich stanza only down a goal as Boston outshot them 18-7.

The game got out of hand in the opening minutes of the third period. First, Matthew Poitras stole the puck from Corey Perry in the neutral zone, then beat him down the ice to tuck the puck past Mrazek. Trent Frederic gave Boston a 3-0 lead just 56 seconds later by driving hard to the net.

This was another case of the Blackhawks just not having enough talent to keep up with an elite team. Much last the last time out against the Vegas Golden Knights, they were right there for two periods then fell apart in the final frame.

Greg Boysen: Nick Foligno Makes Most of Top Line Opportunity

With Taylor Hall now on injured reserve, the door was open for a new veteran to step up and play with Bedard. Luke Richardson decided to put two “gray beards” with the rookie phenom for the rematch against the Bruins. Tyler Johnson and Nick Foligno were the lucky players to get the first crack at the top line.

“It’s hard to have a guy like him out of the lineup because of what he means to our team,” Foligno said of Hall. “It’s a great opportunity for a team still trying to find its identity, for a guy to step in and show what he can do.”

After Tuesday’s morning skate, Foligno was very optimistic about the new line combination.

“I’m excited. I think it will be fun to play with him,” he said. “I’m excited to play with Johnny, too. I think that will be a great line in the sense of what we can accomplish together—especially having TJ on the right side. He’s an experienced guy who knows how to play. He can help Connor and help ourselves have some success. When the opportunities present themselves, we have to make sure we capitalize on them. Nothing changes in how I play. Hopefully, we can complement each other well.”

Foligno was not overwhelmed with the assignment and had himself a pretty good night. Eventually, in the third period, Johnson was taken off the top line and replaced with Philipp Kurashev. The original line had seven shot attempts and eight against while at 5v5.

The cagey veteran finished his night with a team-high three shots on goal, five shot attempts, a hit, and a takeaway. He had a 44 CF%, the third-best among all Blackhawks forwards. While you didn’t sign Foligno to be a top-line winger, he certainly deserves to be back on the line Friday in Vegas.

Jay Zawaski: The NHL’s offside review system is trash

This is going to come off as sour grapes, but I don’t care because I’m right.

Midway through the first period, Connor Bedard looked to have scored a beautiful power play goal. Charlie Coyle threw a blind pass to the slot, and Bedard one timed the attempt, ripping it past Boston goalie Jeremy Swayman. 

The Bruins challenged the play because several moments earlier, they thought Andreas Athanasiou might have had a shoelace offside. 

Ultimately, the Bruins won the challenge, and the goal was disallowed. 

I understand that technology exists to get calls right. For the most part, I believe that is a good thing. Are two feet in bounds in the NFL? Was that home run fair or foul? Was the baserunner safe or out? All of these reviews make sense because they are reviewing the specific moment of the play. Most of the time, this is not the case with NHL offside.

The spirit of the NHL’s offside rule is to prevent cherry picking. If a player is trying to cherry pick, it will be glaringly obvious to the linesmen and the call will be easy. 

Still want the rule to be frame-by-frame perfect? Okay, fine. Then the NHL should put a time limit on the offside challenge. Athansiou’s offside was about 22 seconds before Bedard put the puck behind Swayman. In no way did it impact the ultimate result of the play. In fact, the Bruins had retrieved and turned over the puck between the offside and the goal. 

Goals are exciting. Offside reviews are not. It’s time to re-evaluate this rule.

Mario Tirabassi: I’m Starting to Worry About Lukas Reichel

I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m starting to worry that Lukas Reichel is being put in a position to not be Lukas Reichel.

I trust Luke Richardson enough to not question his decision-making process at this stage in the game because, based off of his current track record as a coach and the 1,486 career NHL games he played more than I did, he knows what he’s doing. Richardson spoke before tonight’s game about Reichel’s play at center and that he is not worried about it. Not worried about it affecting his confidence. Lukas Reichel also spoke about his game as a center in the NHL and that he is not worried about it and not worried about his confidence.

Well, I am.

Among 20 Blackhawks skaters that have played 25 minutes of 5v5 ice time this season, here are Reichel’s advanced metrics when he is on the ice and how he ranks on the team, according to Natural StatTrick:

  • Corsi-For% – 36.57% (18th)
  • Shots-For% – 33.67% (18th)
  • Goals For – 0
  • Goals Against – 5 (Most goals against of any player with zero goals for)
  • Expected Goals-For% – 40.29% (15th)
  • Scoring Chances-For% – 36.26 (18th)
  • High-Danger Chances-For% – 41.18% (11th)

All three categories that he ranks 18th out of 20, the two skaters lower than him are Cole Guttman (now in Rockford) and Nikita Zaitsev (the healthiest of scratches).

It’s just the first seven games of the season and this is the longest leash that Reichel has had to play center in the league since becoming a member of the Blackhawks organization, but he doesn’t look like the same player that gave us all the confidence in the world last season that he could step into the NHL and very quickly develop into a complimentary offense-generating option for Chicago behind Connor Bedard.

Playing center in the NHL comes with more physically demanding responsibilities than as a wing, including playing around the net defensively, winning more battles in the corners of your own zone, winning faceoffs, and having to cover more ice throughout the entirety of a game. Not to mention playing in a top-six center role means you are drawing more difficult matchups. I’m not looking to pull the plug yet on Reichel as a center in the NHL, but I’m starting to get itchy about it. With less defensive responsibilities and more room to be creative offensively, Reichel can let his talents with the puck shine, rather than hindering them so he can work on his two-way game more.

There’s an analogy I’ve grown to appreciate as a parent: If your child is getting a C+ in Math, but an A in Ninja Kicks, you don’t get a Math tutor, you get a Ninja coach.

Maybe that makes more sense to me than anyone else, but hopefully you get my point, which is to put a player in a position to be the best version of the player they are. Alex Ovechkin had his worst season when he was told to focus on his defensive game and backcheck more. Patrick Kane was not good as a centerman. Even as thin as the Blackhawks are down the middle, it’s totally fine if Lukas Reichel isn’t a good center, but can be a great winger.

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