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That’s a bit more like it. After losing Game One of the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase 5-2 on Thursday, the Blackhawks responded with a solid 5-0 victory over the Wild at Fifth Third Arena on Sunday.
Here are three observations from the action:
1. Lukas Reichel and Kevin Korchinski are on a different level
It’s good (and expected) that first-round picks stand out in prospect tournaments, but that hasn’t always been the case in Chicago. For these two games, and especially Sunday, forward Lukas Reichel and defenseman Kevin Korchinski stood above the other players … for either team. When the final horn sounded, Reichel had four assists, along with several other dazzling plays throughout the game. I said last week on CHGO Blackhawks that I wanted to see Lukas Reichel dominate. He did that Sunday. He was the best player on the ice.
“He took his game to another level today,” said Rockford head coach Anders Sorensen.
Two things stood out to me about Korchinski.
- He’s fast and agile. Straight-ahead speed is great, and Korchinski has that, but his edgework on his skates was very solid. He showed the ability to skate himself out of tricky situations, and use his speed to recover from a bad bounce or turnover.
- His passing is on the money. Yes, when the Hawks were winning Stanley Cups in the 2010s, they had a plethora of skilled offensive players, but often the offense was generated from puck-moving defensemen getting the puck from the d-zone to the neutral zone with speed and accuracy. Korchinski had all of those tools on display on Sunday.
2. Samuel Savoie is going to be a fan favorite in short order
The comparisons to Andrew Shaw have already begun, and you can absolutely see why those comparisons are made. Savoie may not be the most talented player on the ice, but you can’t help but notice him. From the second his shifts begin to long after they end, Savoie is involved in the play. He recorded a goal in Sunday’s win. Like Shaw, he was parked in front of the Wild net for the entirety of the powerplay. The puck went off his butt and into the net. Sound familiar?
After the game, Savoie was asked about the Shaw comparison. “Andrew Shaw’s a bit better to me, but that’s a compliment. I’ll take it.”
3. Cole Guttman is going to create a tough decision
Another game, another goal for Guttman. Guttman, who signed as a free agent with the Blackhawks after his championship season with Denver University, is an older prospect at 23 and it shows. His hockey sense, his knack for being in the right place at the right time, is immediately noticeable. Sorensen praised Guttman’s play after the game. “I really like him. He’s a winner. The detail in his game is really good. He’s got some really good habits.”
He scored a goal in each of the Blackhawks’ Kurvers games. Could Guttman’s experience give him a shot at an opening night roster spot? The Blackhawks have stressed patience with their prospects, so a 23-year-old with some poise and experience could be a perfect stop-gap until some younger guys have had some time to marinade.
“Right now, I just want to go out there and do my thing,” Guttman said after the game. “If I just go out and play my game and do what I do best, that’s where I’ll be successful.”
Whatever happens, the Blackhawks finding themselves having to make some difficult, and potentially unexpected, decisions is a good thing for a rebuilding team.
Training camp begins for both prospects and veterans on Thursday. With so many roster spots open, look for an incredibly competitive camp and preseason. We’ll be all over it at CHGO Blackhawks.
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