Thoughts on Reichel's Season Debut (and Demotion), a WJC Captain Named, Colorado's Big Injury, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Thoughts on Reichel’s Season Debut (and Demotion), a WJC Captain Named, Colorado’s Big Injury, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night’s game was a mess. The Blackhawks scrambled their roster at the last minute because Jonathan Toews was sick, putting them behind the ball against one of (if not the) best teams in the entire NHL.

  • Lukas Reichel made his NHL season debut last night and failed to register a shot on net in 12:34. So, did he have a bad game? I’m not going to throw him in the trash bin after one game (though some were doing that after two periods last night on Twitter. Looking at which teammates he shared the ice with last night on NaturalStatTrick, his night was a mess. Reichel was on the ice with Taylor Raddysh most (9:46), followed by Jason Dickinson (6:46). That was the second line when the game started. But he also spent 4:19 with Andreas Athanasiou, 1:10 with Patrick Kane, and 1:37 with Jujhar Khaira. It would be hard to get some consistency going with that level of mixing if he’s been with the team for a week or two, much less getting called up within hours of the puck drop.
  • If Reichel’s ice time was mixed up that much, imagine what the rest of the lineup looked like. The Blackhawks also skated Ian Mitchell in place of Caleb Jones. Mitchell was on the ice for 19 unblocked shot attempts against and just 3 for the Blackhawks. The 19 was the most of any Blackhawks defenseman, and he skated just 16:04. The entire defensive group didn’t have a good night (they haven’t had many since October ended).
  • The Blackhawks aren’t practicing on Wednesday. They did, however, reassign Reichel back to Rockford — which hopefully tells us Toews was able to travel home with the team and will be able to skate on Friday night when the Winnipeg Jets visit the United Center. Sending Reichel back was the right thing to do at this point in the season. There’s no point in having him join an offense that’s a mess right now and taking someone else out of the lineup. If/when the Blackhawks have a full complement of forwards (read: Tyler Johnson and Sam Lafferty return healthy), maybe there’s a conversation to be had, but not now. His development will benefit more from more significant minutes in Rockford.
  • Early this morning, Sweden announced their roster for the upcoming World Juniors. Center Victor Stjernborg, who the Blackhawks drafted in the fourth round (No. 108 overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft, has been named their captain. This season, he has four assists in 24 games for Växjö in the SHL (Sweden).
  • On Tuesday evening, the Colorado Avalanche announced Nathan MacKinnon would miss “approximately four weeks” with an upper-body injury. According to the piece below by Peter Baugh, MacKinnon left the bench during the first period on Monday night and appeared to be grabbing in the area of his ribs and was ruled out before the start of the third period.
  • MacKinnon is obviously one of the best players in the game and leads Colorado with 34 points right now. The Avs have been playing without a bunch of their core players this year because of injuries, but this one is big. It’s worth noting the Blackhawks host the Avalanche on Jan. 12, which is five and a half weeks from tonight. So we’ll see if he’s back in time for that game.
  • Finally, at least one team in town is in its offseason with a lot of money to spend and the Cubs are starting to make some moves. They reportedly agreed to terms with a former MVP and a starting pitcher yesterday. But the big fish they’re chasing is still out there…

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab