The Chicago Blackhawks rebuild has its bumps and bruises. But it has its light and hope, too.
Look no further than the 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Philipp Kurashev notches three points. Connor Bedard pots his fourth goal in five games, including his third in three games. Lukas Reichel was dancing all over the ice and recorded his first point of the season–an assist on Nikita Zaitsev’s goal.
He nearly had a highlight reel goal–if only he could complete the terrific move he made as he approached the net.
But that wasn’t the point. It was that the confidence he’d been lacking on the ice was there in that play. It’s that Kurashev has gotten better with every game he’s played in just four appearances.
And Bedard? Well, he’s exactly as advertised–and will only get better.
While the young kids certainly made their strides, it’s encouraged by the little things the battle tested veterans have done. Corey Perry mixing it up–and nearly throwing down with Panthers goalie Anthony Stolarz. Nick Foligno burying a big goal that helped propel some momentum for the home side.
The team effort stymied any residual lows from Monday’s game. It also provided some momentum for a team seeking another win today.
Blackhawks are Building and Seeing Gains
Heading into the game, Chicago had just 19 goals and were ranked 29th in the league. But the Blackhawks, who fought back after a tough 8-1 loss with four goals in the first 25 minutes of Saturday’s game, it’s the important work there that moves things further.
Don’t panic and have a short memory. Monday was five days ago and the Blackhawks turned that frustration into fantastic fortune.
“Our first period was great,” Kurashev said. “Second [period]they kinda took the momentum, but Petr played an amazing game and he kept us in it. We tried our best to weather the storm and we did a good job.”
The 4-6 Blackhawks haven’t seen much of a break with the schedule. The topic has been a consistent one, but look again and note how Chicago has held steady with playoff contenders while defeating the defending Stanley Cup champions (Vegas), the runners-up (Florida), Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kevin Korchinski and Wyatt Kaiser are logging significant minutes and gaining crucial experience. Everywhere you turn on the roster, gains are occurring.
“I thought Korchinski had a great game, too. I thought Kaiser was right into the mix battling right to the end,” head coach Luke Richardson said. “And it’s good to see, they’re obviously feeling comfortable at this level and this league to battle with the men they’re playing against. I think that shows maturity, and they’re all in with the team.”
Sustaining the Momentum Now–and Building Hope for the Future
It’s not going to be easy at times and will certainly test the resolve of the team–and its fanbase. But Saturday’s game was one of those that reminds that even in the midst of a rebuild, there’s momentum and hope that reminds there’s an end goal in sight.
Build now, brick by brick, and that hope will be provide a foundation that could pay off for seasons to come. But to get there, it starts now, and Richardson’s words not only speak to a seasonal approach to momentum, but perhaps an organizational one, too.
“I’d like to see us build momentum off a win, not react to just after a tough loss,” Richardson said. “I want to see us react after a good win or even a tough win and makes sure that we try and extend that and keep those highs a little bit longer. I think we’ve done a good job, like you said, on the lows, to keep them short. But I’d like to us extend the highs.
That’s where we got to grow a little bit of maturity in our team, not just young guys, all of us together as a group. To be consistent in this league is hard. I think you got to push through that and find it somehow.”