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The Chicago Blackhawks took the United Center Ice on Tuesday night looking to avenge Sunday’s 6-1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings. The home team dressed a lineup pretty close to how it will look on opening night. The only regulars missing were Andreas Athanasiou, who is dealing with an illness, and Philipp Kurashev, who is nursing an injured wrist. After today’s morning skate, head coach Luke Richardson said that Kurashev will start skating again as soon as Wednesday but might not practice for another week.
The opening frame had both goaltenders busy with 27 total shots; 14 for the Red Wings and 13 for the Blackhawks. Corey Perry was the only player to have a shot find the back of the net, as he scored off a rebound just over two minutes into the game. Scoring early carried over into the middle frame as Joe Veleno tied the game just a minute into the second period. Connor Murphy supplied a rare goal off a pass from Connor Bedard to break the tie before the second intermission. Veleno struck again early in the third period to even up the score for the second time. Bedard set up a second Perry goal, this time on the power play, before icing a 4-2 win with a late empty-net goal for his first tally of the preseason. Petr Mrazek made 17 saves to earn the win and picked up an assist on Bedard’s goal.
Greg: Lukas Reichel Looks to Improve on Faceoffs and Defense
There probably aren’t too many Blackhawks worried about Reichel’s offensive skill. He has shown he has the ability and confidence to be an impact player with the puck. He looked great tonight, making crisp tape-to-tape passes and putting up one shot on goal, but seemed dangerous every time he had the puck.
However, now that the Blackhawks are giving Reichel a full-time run at center, there are concerns about his work at the faceoff dot and in the defensive zone. He told us this morning that he spent the summer working on faceoffs with his father, Martin, who was a long-time pro in Germany. He said his dad was very good at faceoffs, but the rules are slightly different than they are in the NHL. For instance, you cannot use your skates to help you win a draw. The second-year center won his first faceoff of the night but finished with three wins in nine chances.
“Defensively, I feel good,” Reichel said after today’s morning skate. “Last game, I know we didn’t play great. We didn’t have a lot of effort or a good game. Me personally, I felt my defense was alright, but, as a team, we have a lot to improve on. There was a lot we can learn from.”
Reichel’s defensive night wasn’t the greatest, as he was on the ice for both Veleno goals. Neither of the goals could be pinned on anything Reichel did, but it’s tough to see your second center as a minus-2 on the night. According to Natural Stat Trick, in 12:13 of 5v5 ice time, he was on the ice for nine shot attempts for to 12 against, ending with a 40.91 Corsi For percentage (CF%). Reichel is not going to become a defensive wizard overnight. It is going to take some time, and there will be plenty of growing pains, but this is the perfect season to work on it.
Mario: Trio of assists highlights Taylor Hall’s night
A beneficiary of all the attention that Connor Bedard will garner this season should be his linemate Taylor Hall. Through the preseason, Hall and Bedard have stayed together on the top line for the Blackhawks while guys like Ryan Donato, Taylor Raddysh, and Tyler Johnson have had cracks at the right side of the top-line. The chemistry should be building between the two, but there might be a break coming soon as Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson mentioned that Hall and his wife are expecting their first child any day now, so a quick paternity leave might be in his future. If/when that happens, Hall should return to the Blackhawks and display his newly-found “Dad Strength” and bring a boost to the team.
But before then, Hall’s spot is on the top line, top powerplay, and all playing with Bedard. Hall is here to mentor the 2023 first-overall pick as a player who was also the first-overall pick back in 2010. He’s also a former MVP, which we can all hope is a future honor for Bedard, so he’s also got that experience and advice to help pass down.
Hall picked up three assists in tonight’s game, a seemingly quiet multi-point night for him. He also played 16:14 minutes of ice-time, had two shots on goal, a hit, and had a 68.84 expected goals-for percentage at all strengths.
Jay: Colton Dach Takes Advantage of Unexpected Opportunity
Ryan Donato was slated to start on Connor Bedard’s right wing for Tuesday’s preseason game vs the Red Wings, but when he was scratched with a groin injury shortly before the game, Colton Dach got the call.
Dach started the game on the left wing with Lukas Reichel and Taylor Raddysh. It was an earned opportunity for Dach, who has impressed the Blackhawks so far this camp.
“I think he’s been excellent right from day one,” Luke Richardson said following Tuesday’s morning practice. “He’s been physical. He’s making really responsible decisions with the puck. I like him. He’s chirping at other players off the bench. He’s not afraid to step up and be a force out there. He’s got some really good skill to shoot the puck. We’ve been impressed with him since day one this year.”
Dach took full advantage of his opportunity. He played so well, he replaced Taylor Raddysh on the top line halfway through the first period. He was physical and had several nice scoring chances. He finished the night with 16:32 of ice time (second most among Hawks forwards), three shots, four hits and one blocked shot.
I’ve been as impressed with Dach as Richardson has. There is a confidence and a swagger about him. His game looks mature beyond its years. I know the “eye-test” can cause an “eye-roll” from a lot of folks, but it’s what we have to go on during the preseason. He looks the part and has been effective. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t get a call-up to the NHL quickly, potentially leapfrogging a number of players we might assume are above him on the depth chart, including Boris Katchouk, Colin Blackwell, Reese Johnson and MacKenzie Entwistle.
I love Dach’s versatility. He has the skill to fill in on the top six if needed, and once this team is ready to compete, could be an elite checking bottom six winger with some scoring punch.I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Dach…and his future might come sooner than we expected.
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