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Blackhawks Locker Room Chatter: ‘We Know He’s a Great Player’

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CHICAGO –  Blackhawks forward Lukas Reichel was almost there. He took it to the net, flipped it with a back hand, and oh my, was it ever close. The oohs and ahhs of the partisan Hawks fans watching the replay said as much.

Alas, it didn’t go in and the Blackhawks would fall in a shootout to the Nashville Predators 4-3.

So close, yet so far works on so many levels here. For the game; for much of the Blackhawks efforts this season.

And for Lukas Reichel.

The 21-year-old was to be counted on as one of the key pieces to help the Blackhawks out of a long rebuild but the early returns haven’t been what he–or the Blackhawks have expected.

But it’s not a point to be discouraged.

“I know he cares and I think he’s just trying to find his way,” forward Nick Foligno said. “And listen, I talk as a 36-year-old, but when I was his age, I was still trying to figure out a hell of a lot in this league, too. You’re frustrated because you want such good things for these guys. And sometimes you’ve just got to find your way through it.”

Reichel Making Strides

A healthy scratch against the Minnesota Wild was what Reichel referred to as a “wake up call.” His play on Tuesday was strong, and especially so in the third period. Chicago needs a hungry Reichel out there, and he was ferocious at some points, starting with how close he came to the goal.

Foligno noticed.

“I actually thought tonight his battles were excellent,” Foligno said.  “Sometimes that’s what it takes, just standing over the puck and realizing that you’re not gonna get bumped off if you really want it that bad. You could see it from him today. He was tenacious. He was hitting guys, he was putting his body in the offensive zone to keep and shield the puck and I actually kind of liked his game today.”

Head coach Luke Richardson saw much of the same.

“I thought there was definitely steps– I thought there was urgency in his game,” Richardson said.  “You know, there was a couple of times maybe it just flung off a stick–He almost scored by taking it hard to the net in the third period and I like that.”

But the Blackhawks Still Need More

Reichel is still young, and he still has time. But the precarious part of it is that the Blackhawks “mulligan” year is this one–where if development takes a bit longer, so be it. As it’s looking with the lowest point total in the league, the Blackhawks are readying for another real crack at a high pick.

There’s urgency in Reichel figuring things out–and helping Chicago determine where he fits in all of it.

But the Blackhawks are here to help him figure it out.

“We care a lot about him and his development and he wants to be a big part of this and he will be a big part of this,” Foligno said.  “It’s sometimes those growing pains. For every guy they’re a little different and he’s going to find his way in here. Because we know he’s a great player and he cares a lot.” 

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