The change was subtle when Petr Mrazek skated to the Chicago Blackhawks bench at the 9:56 of the second period. It was a scheduled switch with Drew Commesso set to take over the second half of the contest. While Mrazek’s seven saves on as many shots saw a little drama here and there, Commesso was flung into the fire almost immediately.
Blackhawks bench boss Luke Richardson made note of it.
“He went right in the second period,” Richardson said. “And I think we had that one long shift in D zone and I thought he looked really calm. He made one big save from the middle, which is the hardest. You just got in there without a warmup and got a point-blank shot from the hashmarks to the middle and just gobbled it up.”
Commesso was peppered early and often, yielding only one to Robert Thomas who ripped a shot top shelf that ricocheted out of the net as fast as it had entered. There was hardly enough time to react.
But it would be the only shot that would find its way past Commesso. He’d finish with 14 saves on 15 shots.
Commesso Backstops Blackhawks in Critical Moments
It’s the little things, however that add up. Richardson pointed to his work outside of the crease a well.
“I really liked his composure with the puck, playing the puck,” Richardson said. “That really helps, especially a younger defense corps. It’s going to help. Petr’s really good with the puck. [Arvid] Soderblom’s good with the puck and now Drew coming into the organization, very good with the puck.”
There were a couple instances where Commesso’s playing of the puck zapped the Blues of an offensive opportunity. Even a little stick work as overtime was approaching its final minute went a long way. Commesso disrupted the puck just enough after a St. Louis scoring chance that it pinballed around in the circle.
Once corralled, the play went the other way and seconds later, the Blackhawks were victorious.
It’s the little things that often add up big, and playing the plucky puckhandling piece of that puzzle.
“That’s always an extra benefit for a defense,” Richardson said. “They can work that into their favor. When I was in Montreal, Carey Price made a big difference for a defenseman coming in, especially a young defenseman. That’s a luxury here, and he fits in perfectly with that.”
Sure, he’ll face some tougher talent down the road depending on how long he stays with the big club. But Commesso surely made a favorable impression Thursday night.