A number of skaters made their professional debuts in the Blackhawks game last night. After watching a long summer with a development camp in July, a prospect showcase (including a couple games against Minnesota) earlier in September and now training camp in Chicago, we’ve mostly seen these young players against other Blackhawks. So last night was valuable in helping us gauge how some of these players look against someone else — and, most importantly, NHL players.
So how did they look? Let’s break it down.
Ethan Del Mastro
Del Mastro skated 18:21 last night, which ranked fourth among Blackhawks defensemen. All of his ice time was at even strength; Seth and Caleb Jones, Connor Murphy and Alex Vlasic handled the penalty kill duty while Kevin Korchinski and Seth Jones took care of almost all of the power play duties (Murphy had four seconds on PP).
Before the game Del Mastro told me the coaches wanted him to use his size to be a physical force on the ice. He laid a big hit on his first shift and did a good job for most of the night using his big frame to take away space. Del Mastro was credited with two hits in the game.
St. Louis had a goal taken off the board because of a penalty, but Del Mastro got caught flat-footed on a breakaway attempt on the play. He received a heavy workload from the coaches and held up pretty well.
We didn’t expect Del Mastro to be a finished product, and he isn’t. But there was a lot of good in his performance last night.
If you enjoyed Savoie’s performance last night, he’s back on the ice tonight. Savoie and Korchinski are the only two skaters who will get back-to-back games from the coaches, and it’s clear the coaches like what each brings to the table.
Savoie skated 12:21 last night, of which 2:24 came on the power play. He was credited with five of the Blackhawks’ 12 hits in the game and had one shot on net. And he also picked up a penalty, giving him everything but a goal off his head for the Andrew Shaw Trifecta.
Before the game, Richardson said he loved Savoie’s energy and that he’s the kind of player who ramps up his game with more action. And we saw that last night. He was annoying the entire night, and the breakaway we mentioned above that didn’t count was because Luke Schenn grabbed Savoie’s stick from the bench. That’s totally something Shaw would have created, so enjoy that comparison as long as it sticks folks.
Guttman scored his first professional goal last night and he did it in the way that he’s made his calling card since signing with the Blackhawks: he parked himself in front of the net and ripped a short shot past the netminder.
Guttman skated 14:28, all at even strength, and won half of his 12 faceoffs. After the game, Richardson went out of his way to praise the line of Guttman, Colin Blackwell and Buddy Robinson; he said in the second period “the Guttman line” really flipped the script with their aggressive play in the offensive zone.
He isn’t the biggest guy on the ice (Robinson was), but Guttman has a clear understanding of where to play the game. Richardson has talked about how he plays between the circles and finds loose pucks in dangerous areas throughout camp and he did that last night. He was credited with four shots on net, one takeaway and one blocked shot.
After serving as the captain on an NCAA championship team at Denver last year, he’s a guy who will bring some leadership and experience to the ice in Rockford to start the season. But if he keeps doing the little things we’ve seen since he got to Chicago, he might find himself in Chicago at some point. Frankly, I would love to see him on a line with Sam Lafferty and Blackwell during the season.
Korchinski headlined our 4 takeaways last night after the game after a superb first go against NHL players. His speed was on display all night and is clearly elite. He chased down pucks all over the ice and showed his strong offensive instincts on a number of occasions.
He was tasked with running the point for the second power play unit and looked good… but, as Richardson has told him and the media from Day One of camp, he needs to shoot the puck more frequently/willingly. There were times he deferred when he could have shot, and that will change.
After the game he talked about feeling things out and getting a taste of his first action in an NHL game, and he looked pretty comfortable for a teenager. Among Blackhawks defensemen, only the Jones brothers skated more than Korchinski’s 19:02 last night. And he spent 2:33 on the power play, second on the Hawks’ blue line behind Seth Jones.
He was credited with two shots on net and one blocked shot on the night. He’ll get another run against NHL competition in Detroit on Wednesday, giving him — and Savoie — the chance to improve against high level competition on a second consecutive night.