The Chicago Blackhawks are 2-5 and well, hitting a wall of sorts. Even head coach Luke Richardson expressed his frustration following the 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins Tuesday night.
“I’m tired–one year is enough of a hard-working team,” Richardson said. “We want to push for more this year. I think we start off with a good intention but I find the other teams, not outwork us like work ethic-wise, but I want to say the hardness of the work, you know what I mean, like physical one-on-one battles. We have to work on that and sometimes that’s just a little work in practice of this is how you have to play every shift, every game.”
That will set the tone for this version of the Blackhawks Stock Index. Which of those kids are making it? Who’s not? What happens next? Only a couple names–and both to show the inverse index reaction.
Stock Rising – Kevin Korchinski
This should put to rest, once and for all, the idea that somehow Korchinski is going back to Seattle. He’s been consistent, fast, and staying true to his game. Twice during the Boston game, Korchinski kept an offensive chance alive before being in position to seal anything off should it come the other way.
Much of the intrigue has been whether Korchinski has looked overmatched. He hasn’t–he’s looked like he belongs as an NHL defenseman and as time rolls on, could be the lynchpin on the blue line that Blackhawks were hoping for when they drafted him.
Now, there’s still a couple games left before the Blackhawks officially burn the first year of his entry-level deal, but it’s all but a lock that like rookies Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook in 2005-06, Korchinski is here to stay on the blue line for Chicago.
Stock Falling – Lukas Reichel
There’s no way around it, and I’m prefacing this as not being based on ability level–but Reichel’s struggles are compounding by what looks like the head game.
A cautionary tale for all of this is Filip Zadina. The situations are different, but certain elements are unfolding that bring up some striking similarities. Of the players on the ice, I’ve watched him more the past couple games in Chicago being able to see the entire sheet of ice. His body language is one that screams frustration. It’s something that happened constantly with Zadina, a 2018 sixth overall pick who just never scored at the clip expected. Detroit converted him to a two-way forward and while his overall game was better, the stats never followed.
Mix in injury and some snakebitten luck and it’s an awful lot of looking skyward why the Hockeygods mock him.
Reichel was taken 17th overall in 2020, but came into the season with high expectations. It was to be Connor Bedard and him being the young forwards nudging Chicago along. In seven games, Reichel has no points. He’s had chances, and yesterday shot more than passed–but there’s nothing to show for it.
Richardson was blunt when asked about Reichel.
“I’m sure he’s frustrated but you have to get harder and more determined,” Richardson said. “That’s pro hockey and I think he showed some signs again tonight. He had a couple of good shots in the second period, down on the power play and one in the slot, it looked like it almost could’ve squeezed through.”
Almost. The dreaded word for Zadina once upon a time, who is now with San Jose and started hot with two goals in three games. He hasn’t scored in the last three.
Now, this could simply be a blip. Maybe Richardson decides to put Reichel with Bedard on the top line or on the power play. Maybe he moves him to wing and gives him a little more freedom defensively. The problem? With a minimum of 20 attempts, Reichel leads all centers in faceoff percentage winning nearly half of his attempts (48.3%).
Bedard? 37.6%. Putting him on the wing sacrifices what has been a major ‘win’ for Reichel.
It hasn’t helped that he’s been facing the league’s best since the puck dropped on the season. But excuses are just that–and the Blackhawks won’t accept that reasoning. Reichel is a crafty playmaker and said in the preseason that he needed to be a bit more selfish with the puck.
Whatever it takes, there’s still time for him to figure it out. But looking at former first round picks who struggled to turn the corner, it’s figuring out what it takes to him going statistically. But there’s something to be said that confidence plays into things, too. As it degrades, so too does performance.
Faceoffs are certainly important. But points add up faster–and so will the confidence.