Lukas Reichel made his NHL season debut against one of the top teams in the NHL on Tuesday night. And he did it replacing a sick Jonathan Toews in the lineup, so no pressure whatsoever. The swap of the 20-year-old prospect for the future Hall of Famer put the Blackhawks’ lines in a blender from the get-go and they didn’t ever really look settled. As the night went on, Reichel looked more comfortable and confident but there was never a consistency from any offensive approach. The result: the Blackhawks were shut-out in consecutive games for the first time since 2006.
Star 1: Jack Hughes
This kid is special. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 Draft came in with 13 goals and 16 assists in 25 games — that you can read on a website. If you’ve watched him skate, you’ll know he possesses the combination of skill and speed that front offices like the Blackhawks’ dream about. And he put on a show in the game. His creation of the Devils’ first period goal was an impressive shift. I couldn’t take my eyes off him when he was on the ice.
Star 2: Kyle Davidson’s Draft Board
Look, this one was going to be a tall order with Toews in the lineup. Without the Blackhawks’ top center? Impossible. There’s a reason the Devils are at the top of the Metropolitan Division and came into Tuesday night’s game with an eight-point cushion in front of second place. And in this game we got to watch a Devils roster that looks like the team the Blackhawks’ front office is aspiring to look like in a couple years: young, fast and really good.
Star 3: Arvid Söderblom
As was the case against the Islanders on Sunday night, Söderblom was a big reason the game was as (relatively) close as it was. He made some superb saves in each period, keeping the score close enough that it was interesting (for bettors). Söderblom finished the night stopping 26 of 29.
- The fact that only two Blackhawks skaters had more than one shot on net after two periods isn’t an ideal reality, but the lines they were rolling were clearly a mess and the chemistry was a work-in-progress. The fact that Kane (6) and Andreas Athanasiou (3) combined for 9 of their 20 total shots on net in the opening 40 minutes was more of a concern. Kane finished the night with seven of the Blackhawks’ 24 shots on net.
- Without Toews in the lineup, I wondered in our pre-gamin’ post who would step up in the faceoff circle. The Blackhawks started the game with Max Domi on the top line and Jason Dickinson bumped up to the second line. Jujhar Khaira and MacKenzie Entwistle were the third and fourth line centers, respectively. Domi wound up taking the majority of the faceoffs with Dickinson picking up a significant portion of the rest. Here’s how the guys who took multiple faceoffs did at the dot:
- Reichel’s ice time by period:
1st — 4:21
2nd — 4:44
3rd — 4:53
Total — 13:58
21 shifts, 0 shots on net, 1 giveaway
- Less than one minute into the third period, Tomas Tatar’s stick got caught in Söderblom’s mask. He went down on the ice and stayed down for a moment until the trainers came out to check on him. Thankfully he was able to stay in the game but that was a scary moment.