Bedard Race Drama, a Full Month of Reichel, Bulldogs Come Together, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

The Blackhawks’ loss to the Blues last night was significant in a number of ways, with some help coming from outside the United Center. On paper, Blackhawks-Blues should have been the “most competitive” of the games involving the bottom four teams in the league: Columbus was facing a Bruins team that could clinch the Presidents Trophy last night, San Jose was facing Pacific Division-leading Vegas, and Anaheim was in Seattle against a Kraken team trying to hang onto a wild card berth. Well, Columbus pushed Boston into overtime (point) and San Jose beat Vegas in overtime (two points) and BOOM! Your Chicago Blackhawks are back in the driver’s seat in the Bad for Bedard Sweepstakes standings with seven games left on the calendar.

  • It’s worth noting the regulation win pushes the Blues to 11th in the draft lottery — the lowest spot that could potentially win the No. 1 pick (but with incredibly long odds). What we don’t need is more than the Blackhawks and Coyotes from the Central Division in the mix for Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli or Leo Carlsson so the more wins the rest of the division can pile up the better.
  • At some point, Lukas Reichel and Alex Vlasic (and probably a few others players, including Joey Anderson) will be sent to Rockford to finish the season and skate in the AHL playoffs. Vlasic is getting a little run here with the NHL club and showing how he’s developed this season. For Reichel, it’s been a complete month with the Blackhawks, and he’s enjoyed varying degrees of success. He now has five goals and five assists in 19 NHL games this season.
  • Reichel is going to be the centerpiece of the first wave of the rebuild in Chicago by default; he and Kirby Dach were the only highly skilled forwards drafted by Stan Bowman since the Hawks picked Alex DeBrincat in 2016 (yeah, it’s that bad). Now we have some hope for players selected in subsequent drafts, but Reichel is ready for the NHL and will be here first for the longer-term.
  • The great news about Reichel’s development is we’ve seen his game evolve in the NHL since he came back up. As Ben Pope wrote last night, he continues to show flashes of ability that simply aren’t there many/any other places on up front for these Blackhawks. And head coach Luke Richardson is investing his efforts into showing Reichel the little places where he can continue getting better regularly — a great situation for him to become a productive NHL regular.
  • Three Blackhawks players and a coach took a fun photo on the ice at the United Center. Alex Stalock, Joey Anderson and Wyatt Kaiser are all formerly players at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Assistant coach Derek Plante, played there as well and was the associate head coach of the Bulldogs during the 2021-22 season. It’s worth noting the Blackhawks still have center Dominic James in their program, so the pipeline isn’t drying up any time soon.
  • Speaking of college hockey, the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award were named on Thursday — and all three are from the Big Ten. Logan Cooley and Matthew Knies from Minnesota and Adam Fantilli from Michigan are the three players up for the top honor in NCAA hockey. Cooley was the third overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft by Arizona. Knies somehow slid to 57th overall to Toronto in the 2021 NHL Draft. And Fantilli, of course, is draft eligible for 2023. All three are underclassmen.
  • This is just magnificent. Billy Sweezey is a 27-year-old defenseman who skated in his third career NHL game last night AT Boston. His parents were there. And he dropped the gloves. Find someone who cheers for you the way Billy’s dad, Ken, cheers for him!
  • Love fights? How about an Alex DeBrincat fight? You know, for old times’ sake?
  • As a reminder, you can win one of two (2) $100 Fanatics gift cards or free ticket(s) to our upcoming event next Thursday at HVAC Pub in Wrigleyville by clicking here.
  • Finally, Brett and Michael were in the right field bleachers at Wrigley Field yesterday watching the Cubs start their season 1-0. If it looked like they were having fun on social media, it sounds like we only got a glimpse of a beautiful start to the new year.
  • [bet-bonus id=”360657″ ]

    written by

    Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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