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Blackhawks AM Analysis: Rookies Using Speed and Space

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It started innocently enough. A simple pass he gets outside the opposing blue line and from there, it’s what has defined Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Connor Bedard during his hockey career. Turning something simple into a great play.

This one ended up in the back of the net. And the play started off the stick of his rookie teammate Kevin Korchinski–another expert in using speed to create some space.

He won’t end up on the scoresheet but the play started with his quick pass. Bedard then coasts into the zone, drops a pass to Ryan Donato who sends it right back. Through all of this, Bedard is able to find enough space to position himself to get a shot off.

He fires it from the top of the circle which Vezina winner Linus Ullmark blocks. But the puck pops loose in the swath of Bruins and Blackhawks clustered near the net.

Bedard finds the puck, collects it, and then quickly deposits it into the net with a quick wrap around. Ullmark couldn’t get there quick enough to close off the net, and Bedard benefits.

Finding the space is one thing. But the reaction and speed in which he moved displays his vision and precisely why Bedard was coveted by every team with a lottery chance.

Bedard Shows More of the Same Later, But Without the Tally

Bedard nearly had a second goal on the power play where he was gliding but finding that space as if skating around cones in a drill. The shot would be stuffed but it was close enough that a second goal looked possible.

The third prominent moment, however, had Blackhawks fans holding their collective breath. Bedard coralled the puck on a no-look pass from Lukas Reichel and was sprung loose. The shot again was saved, but Hampus Lindholm’s stick ended up tangling with Bedard’s skates after the play and his momentum sent him crashing into the boards.

He took a second to get back up–and even took a knee for a second to catch his breath. All ended up being well.

But that moment was set up because once again, Bedard was able to use his speed and vision to create the space that led to a chance.

Korchinski Also Showing Speed on the Blackhawks Blueline

The reviews are mixed at times as it will be with any rookies, but Kevin Korchinski has certainly shown his wheels in conjunction with his vision. After all, it was Korchinski who found Bedard hovering around the Bruins blue line. That quick pass led to Chicago’s only goal but it hasn’t been the first heads up play for Korchinski.

It might not be space as much as his speed that draws attention, so much so that pairing partner Connor Murphy made mention of it when asked about it. In fact, his description of Korchinski all but sums up what occurred on Bedard’s goal.

“He’s great. Every game I’ve played with him he uses his skating so well,” Murphy said.  “That’s something I wish I had. Him being able to carry the puck up and have poise and use his legs, and it creates extra dimension to our rushes and you see it when he’s able to join in, it gives our forwards more ice to be able to create things and gain their blue line and really create chances and zone time.”

Indeed. Blackhawks fans will certainly be watching for more of it as the season continues on.

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