THE FUTURE IS NOW PEOPLE. If you had any questions, concerns or thoughts about the future of the Chicago Blackhawks, I beg you save the first period of the game in Tampa on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 as the moment we collectively realized that OH EM GEE IT’S HAPPENING.
Remember this morning in our bullets and then in the pregame when I cited a quote from Luke Richardson about how he and the front office view Tampa as one of the model franchises they’re trying to build the team to look like in the future? And how this game meant a little more at this point in the rebuild? Well…
The only negative from this game was the injuries. The Blackhawks had three players leave the game — one in each period — because of injury. They have a few extra bodies with them on the trip but this is clearly not ideal.
Star 1: CONNOR BEDARD
What are we even doing right now? The kid’s mom is in the suite upstairs with the other moms and they’re all having a lovely evening in Florida and BOOM GOAL and then BOOM ASSIST and then BOOM GOAL and then the first period ended and Bedard already had three points on the board. Just a beautifully silly performance from Bedard in the first.
He got clipped in the mouth by Tanner Jeannot 72 seconds into the second period, drawing blood and giving the Blackhawks four minutes of power play time. Exactly 60 seconds into the power play, Bedard ripped a shot at the net that was tipped in by Corey Perry and he had a four-point night in 32:12 of game time.
Star 2: Kevin Korchinski
If Bedard didn’t go full Oppenheimer in the first period, Korchinski might have been an easy call for the top star after scoring his first career NHL goal. Strangely enough, Korchinski’s goal was the only one of the Blackhawks’ four in the first period that Bedard didn’t either score or assist on. The future is now, people. We’re watching it happen in front of us.
Star 3: Petr Mrazek
I could have gone with Nick Foligno here (three assists) or Philipp Kurashev (two assists), but I’m going to heap praise on Mrazek tonight. The Blackhawks gave up a quick goal in the first, and then Tampa took a 2-1 lead later in the first. This game’s score looked to be under control from the mid-point in the first period through the duration of the event only because Mrazek was marvelous after allowing the second goal. He finished the night stopping 31 of 34 (.912 save pct).
Jarred Tinordi left the game late in the first period with an undisclosed injury and was ruled out by the Blackhawks.
Late in the second period, Andreas Athanasiou looked a little slower than usual on a potential breakaway and went to the room after leaving the ice. He, too, was ruled out for the rest of the game.
With 5:33 left in regulation and the Blackhawks playing well with a lead, Taylor Hall got caught up with Michael Eyssimont and went down in a heap. He immediately grabbed his right knee and didn’t put any weight on it as he was helped off the ice. Absolutely HATE seeing that. He just got back from the shoulder issue and has been so good when he’s been on the ice. Hopefully it isn’t as bad as it looked.
Seth Jones‘ first half of the first period was hot garbage. The penalty he took early might have been soft, but he could have easily avoided a lazy play and Tampa scored while he watched. Then he acted like he thought about blocking a shot from Mikhail Sergachev later in the period but really just took a knee and watched the shot hit the post. He also turned a puck over at the blue line to create a rush opportunity for the short-handed Lightning early in the second period. And don’t ask me what the hell he was doing on the Lightning’s third goal in the third period when he floated around the crease and out of position, leaving Steven F***ing Stamkos alone in his office. When the dust settled (per Natural Stat Trick), Jones was on the ice for 19:58 at 5-on-5 that saw the Blackhawks attempt 8 shots and the Lightning attempt 21.
Leaders need to be better than that right out of the gate after a players only meeting after the previous game. After the players meeting on Sunday night you would hope that one of the “leaders” would have looked better but his mediocrity stood out in this one. On a night when the vibe was so freaking good for two periods, he looked like he couldn’t care less.
Lukas Reichel had a terrible night. I advocated for him before the season and thought — I really thought — that the attention on Bedard would open up ice and give him a better chance to succeed. It’s been the complete opposite. If you want to know why his ice time is low, look at his numbers. He had the worst shot attempt ratio on the roster by a fair margin; at the end of the night, Reichel was on the ice for 9:19 at 5-on-5 in which the Blackhawks attempted three (3) shots and the Lightning attempted 17. He did get some PK time again tonight, which is good. Hopefully he can continue to find ways to impact the game while we wait for the offense to arrive.