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The Blackhawks Need for Speed from Kevin Korchinski

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To borrow a line from the great 80’s classic film Top Gun, the Chicago Blackhawks have the need–the need for speed. Specifically from Kevin Korchinski.

It’s not everyday that a head coach promotes his rookie defenseman to take chances that could lead to a disadvantage on the back end. But Korchinski is that good that the Blackhawks bench boss wants to see more of it in a game.

Albeit in the right circumstances.

But the top end speed he showed skating around Anaheim Ducks and turning it into not one, but two scoring chances on the same sequence–yes–the coaching staff is ordering more of it. Head coach Luke Richardson even deemed it “excellent.”

“He’s shown a couple of those this year,” Richardson said of Korchinski’s scoring chance.  “And it’d be great to add (it) in once a period or maybe twice a period, if it presents itself like it did there, and not be so eager to pass off and bail out of there. He’s been shooting the puck better the last few games as well. Maybe not as many tonight. But we want that out of him.”

A Learning Process for Kevin Korchinski

The hard part of course for the rookie is being judicious about when to commit to those plays. The fear being that one mistake will lead to the puck being fished out of his team’s net. It’s happened before this season and resulted in a demotion from the top power play line–for a game.

But that’s what teaching and learning is. Risk taking is part of the equation–so long as those risks are calculated ones.

“[It’s] not forcing the issue,” Richardson said.  “It’s just knowing when the other team is vulnerable, and he’s got the speed. And let’s say our forward is standing still, why give it to the forward standing still at the blue line? Keep going and that forward’s job is to cover up for you.”

Korchinski made the Western Hockey League look silly last season, posting 73 points (11-62) in just 54 games as a defenseman. En route to the WHL title, the 19-year-old had 14 points with three of them finding the back of the net. Much of those points were a result of utilizing his speed. How? Noting the vulnerabilities of the opponent, just as Richardson said.

But the spotlight burns hotter at the NHL level and a couple times, Korchinski has been on the wrong side of tough goals. It might have understandably created a bit of hesitancy, but Richardson has given the green light for Korchinski’s need for speed–simply because the Blackhawks can benefit from it.

“We want to promote that for him when it’s his chance to go,” Richardson said.  “I think it’s the best part of his game, his skating ability and creating offense.”

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