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It was a Wednesday Night Rivalry night (R.I.P) but only it was TNT tonight between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. While the hatred between the teams has fizzled over the years that they have been in opposite conferences, you still hate to lose to Detroit.
Except for this season.
After the Blackhawks got off to a red-hot start behind a pair of goals from Taylor Raddysh to get out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, the wheels fell off in the second period and the Red Wings evened the game going into the third period. Newcomer Joey Anderson gave the Blackhawks the lead again in the third period with his first goal as a member of the team, but it would be Lucas Raymond and our dear friend Dominik Kubalík scoring third period goals to give the Red Wings the lead for good and handing the Blackhawks a “Tank Win.”
With the loss, the Blackhawks fall to 22-37-5 with 49 points on the season. They rank second-to-last in the NHL, only two points separated from the Columbus Blue Jackets and the bottom of the league.
Greg’s Hit: Taylor Raddysh Continues to Make the Most of It
Kyle Davidson has done a good job of acquiring players who have been blocked on deep rosters and having them excel when given an expanded role. This is a better strategy than trying to hope failed first-round picks magically find their groove in a Blackhawks uniform. Taylor Raddysh was a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016. After cracking the NHL roster in 2021-22, he came to Chicago as part of the Brandon Hagel trade last March.
Raddysh has been a top-six forward for pretty much the entire season and he’s made the most of it. He’s not a player that is going to wow you with amazing highlight reel plays, but he’s going to play a hard game and spend a lot of time between the dots. He puts himself in the right position to be an effective offensive threat.
The 25-year-old winger was the offensive hero in Detroit scoring a pair of first-period goals on consecutive shots. Case in point, for his first goal, he skated to the net with his stick on the ice and converted for his first goal in 15 games.
Raddysh didn’t have to wait nearly as long as his next goal as his next shot, off a Cole Guttman pass, found the back of the net. He now has 16 goals, the most of any active Blackhawk and just as many as Patrick Kane has this season. It will be interesting to see how he finishes his season and tries to carry momentum into the 2023-24 season.
Jay’s Hit: Lukas Reichel earning Luke Richardson’s trust
Since his call up on March 2, Lukas Reichel has played in four games and has scored three points (1G, 2A), including an assist and hit the post in Wednesday’s loss to the Red Wings. However, what makes me most hopeful about Reichel has been the trust he has seemed to earn from Luke Richardson.
In Wednesday’s game, Reichel played 18:51…the most in his young career by a large margin. He was on the ice in the waning seconds as the Blackhawks were trying to tie the game and had 3:10 of powerplay time, behind only Seth Jones (3:20) and Tyler Johnson (3:15).
The points will come because he has the skill, but what will keep him in the lineup and in the organization when it comes time for the Hawks to win again is his commitment to his all-around game.
After Tuesday’s practice, Richardson was asked how he expected Reichel to handle bigger, more physical opponents like the Panthers and Lightning. Richardson took the chance to expound on his game.
“There was a play inside the blue line where I saw [Brady] Tkachuk saw [Reichel] was going to have to make a play standing still and charged at him. He had enough confidence and calmness and ability to make another little air-mail play, and just absorb Tkachuk as he hit him so he doesn’t get blown over or hurt. So that gives me confidence for him to have the awareness that someone like that’s one the ice.”
These are the small parts of development that coaches see that we might not really notice, but Richardson is noticing. That’s what matters.
Mario’s Hit: Stalocked-In
This summer, we spoke about Alex Stalock as a punch-line for when the Blackhawks needed a loss for the tank season. It has been completely the opposite all year. When Stalock has been healthy and on the ice for Chicago, he has been one of their best overall players.
Tonight was another example. Even in a loss, Stalock was the reason that the Blackhawks even had a chance. He made 37 saves on 41 shots faced, including 19 in the second period where the Blackhawks were out-shot 19-3 in the frame. His record falls to 7-8-1 on the season, but he continues to have a very respectable save percentage this season above a .920. Dealing with a concussion and an ocular dysfunction this season has kept Stalock off the ice and out of the Blackhawks locker room. He’s better when he’s around the team and the atmosphere around the Blackhawks is better when Stalock is in the room.
“It’s a scary thing, going through the concussion stuff this year for the first time,” Stalock said after the game. “I’m just happy to be back. It’s not easy to be an athlete and be sitting out. I’m excited for every game I get a chance to go in there.”
The future of the 35-year-old goaltender with the Blackhawks likely doesn’t include a second year with the team. But, if it were up to me, I would sign-up for another year of The Alex Stalock Experience to have him around the team for another season that will have its fair share of losses in 2023-24.
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