Write down Jan. 8, 2023 vs. Calgary as the night Lukas Reichel announced his arrival in the NHL. His first-period goal was a strong play in traffic against a bigger player (Nikita Zadorov). His assist early in the second period was a showcase of speed and vision. He played his best game in the NHL on Friday night and then took to another level last night. How about a three-point night that includes his first goal and an assist on the overtime game-winner?
- How good was Reichel last night? I occasionally share these game grades the morning after and holy $#!+ does Reichel’s line stand out.
- Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that the Blackhawks’ offense has been terrible for a couple years and many have argued that Reichel brings elements to the table that have been missing on the NHL roster both years. But the Blackhawks’ new front office has made a very open, conscious decision to properly allow prospects to develop before calling them up. Yes, injuries made this call-up (and Brett Seney’s for that matter) a possibility, but giving Reichel run on the top line and skating him legit minutes has shown that he’s more physically ready for the show than he as in previous call-ups. This bodes well for the short and long term of the franchise if the Blackhawks are going to spend the time — and actually work with players to improve — to make sure they’re ready.
- And Reichel’s arrival was in front of another strong crowd. Lots of comments here and on social media were asking how awful the butts in seats numbers would be this season. They’ve actually been surprisingly better than I think almost everyone expected, especially after the bottom was reached against the Islanders on Nov. 1 (the game in which Alex Stalock suffered his concussion). Keep comin’ out, folks. Just remember you might be down to just a handful of opportunities to see Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in Blackhawks’ sweaters between now and the March 3 trade deadline.
- I noted this last night, but the Blackhawks have scored the first goal in every game this year. Really! Since the calendar flipped to 2023 (four games), the Hawks have put the puck in the net first in each contest.
- Almost 16 minutes into the second period, Flames forward Dillon Dube picked up a penalty for boarding Philipp Kurashev (and another for fighting Max Domi, who came to the defense of his teammate). As you can see below, it was really more an elbow to the back of the head — a filthy dirty play that should get him at least a phone call from the NHL’s Dept. of Player Safety — than “boarding.” Thankfully Kurashev was able to return on the subsequent power play.
- Just a brief reminder of what we’re all hoping to see in Chicago at some point: Connor Bedard re-joined his junior team last night. And he went off for Regina. THIRTEEN shots on net?!? (Oh, and two of his goals were short-handed.)
- Finally, with Bedard on our minds, it’s a celebration Monday for Bears fans. Yeah, they got their butts kicked by the Vikings yesterday. But Lovie Smith did the thing in Houston and the Bears landed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Let’s goooooo!