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After a 2-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night, it was a step up in competition for the Chicago Blackhawks when they hosted the Calgary Flames. With help from Lukas Reichel’s first NHL goal and second NHL assist, the Blackhawks found themselves with a 3-1 lead early in the second period, but two goals in the period allowed the Flames to mount a comeback to get the game to overtime. In the extra frame, the Lukas Reichel Show continued as he was a factor in the eventual game-winning goal coming from Max Domi.
This game could have been way more out of hand if not for the effort in net from Alex Stalock. Calgary put 47 shots on Stalock tonight with 86(!) shot attempts total. Stalock made 44 saves in the game, earned the third-star of the game honors and picked up his sixth win of the season. His save-percentage is now up to .923 on the season. On this team!
Lukas Reichel: NHL goal-scorer
During Sunday morning skate, Lukas Reichel said his performance on Friday night against the Arizona Coyotes was, “a good day.” Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Reichel if today would be a good day, “I hope so. I’ll try my best.”
Well, I’d say scoring your first NHL goal in your career is a pretty good day.
Reichel followed up his strong performance on Friday night with another stand-out game on Sunday night against the Calgary Flames. For the second game in-a-row, Reichel was paired with Max Domi and Philipp Kurashev on the Blackhawks’ top line with the absence of Patrick Kane. That trio was the best performing line on Friday night. They followed up that performance with another night as the best forward group for the Blackhawks.
While it wasn’t as dominant as Friday night, the top-line finished with a 46.15% Corsi-For percentage in 14:22 of 5v5 ice-time. They also finished with a 46.15% Shots-For percentage at 5v5 and were on the ice for two goals for and none against them at 5v5, according to Natural Stat Trick. Reichel also led the Blackhawks in Individual Expected Goals-For in all situations with a 0.65 rate and led the team with four high-danger chances individually.
Reichel spoke following the game about getting his first career NHL goal saying, “It’s a dream come true.” After a season and half as over a point-per-game player in the AHL, it appears Reichel may be finding his stride at the NHL level, but he’s not going to get too far ahead of himself.
“I don’t want to say anything to get in trouble, but I played good tonight and I’m always happy to play here and I want to stay.”
The second-year winger finished tonight with his first NHL goal, two primary assists (including one on the overtime-winner), a +3 rating, and five shots on goal in 16:16 minutes of ice-time. Not too shabby.
Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson, who said at morning skate that tonight was an opportunity for Reichel to solidify his status as an NHL player, had praise for the 20-year-old in his 14th career NHL game.
“We want to see the same thing in the third game that we did in the second. That’s what we asked him after the first, and you know what, he gave it to us.”
If it were up to me, regardless of Patrick Kane’s injury status, Reichel should be staying with Chicago for a bit longer than maybe previously expected by the club. Richardson said basically as much following the 4-3 overtime win, “I think the idea of bringing him up now is probably he earned a spot. It’s not just a flash, coming up for a game or two. It’s just to give him an extended time to see if he can sustain what he’s doing right now.”
Reichel is an NHL-caliber player. Now the Blackhawks have to let him go be one.
Make Jake an NHL All-Star
If the Blackhawks didn’t fall incredibly short of their preseason expectations last year, and they were not in a full-blown tank season this year, Jake McCabe would be a hero in this city. He’s a hard-nosed defenseman who doesn’t talk a lot, but says enough through his play. Physical, reliable, and someone you want to have your back whether on the ice or at 2:00 a.m. in a Roadhouse-style bar fight.
That’s why CHGO and a number of our Blackhawks media friends have begun the Twitter campaign to get Jake McCabe to the NHL All-Star game through the fan vote.
It takes a special kind of player to be a plus-player on a team that is in the bottom-five in the NHL in goal-differential. Entering tonight’s game, McCabe was the only plus-player on the Blackhawks with a +3 rating. He was also coming off scoring his second goal of the season and is second in points on the Blackhawks among defensemen with ten. Following tonight’s win, McCabe is now a +6(!) and has 11 points on the season.
He’s the kind of player that doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for how he has carried himself on this kind of Blackhawks team. If these were the modern-Cup era days, McCabe No. 6 sweaters would be as abundant as those of Andrew Shaw or Niklas Hjalmarsson during that time.
I know Seth Jones is already going to the All-Star game, but damnit so should McCabe.
Opening goal streak continues
We’re still going to tell you to stay the course when betting against the Blackhawks to score the opening goal of their games, but they have made us look dumb the last four games in-a-row now. Thanks to Lukas Reichel, the Blackhawks scored the game’s opening goal for the fifth-straight game.
The Blackhawks benefitted from a pair of first goals as members of the team in the first period from Reichel and Colin Blackwell and took a 2-1 lead over the Flames into the first intermission. So if you also have been following our betting advice on CHGO Blackhawks to take the opposition on the first period money-line, we also apologize.
Tonight was the 11th time this season that Chicago has had the opening lead of a game, still the fewest times in the NHL. They hold a 6-3-2 record with tonight’s overtime win when they score the first goal of a game.
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