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Blackhawks Postgame Chatter: ‘I Thought He Had a Great First Game’



CHICAGO – It was a couple of firsts for Connor Murphy and Ethan Del Mastro–both of course on the opposite end of their career experiences. Del Mastro played in his first NHL game while Murphy appeared in his first game since January. They were also paired together for the first time–skating in the Blackhawks 5-1 loss Friday night against the Nashville Predators.

Murphy was impressed with what he saw for the first time from the 21-year-old defenseman.

“He’s great,” Murphy said of Del Mastro’s first game at the NHL level.  “For a big guy, he seems to have good handles on the puck and good instincts to use his body. I thought he had a great first game. I can imagine it’s not easy coming in at the end of the season like that and playing against a playoff team.”

It certainly wasn’t easy for the Blackhawks–who fell into another 4-0 hole, albeit it one that wasn’t in the first seven odd minutes of the game. But Del Mastro was steady throughout the game, picking the right spots, being physical when he had to be, and generating offense when the opportunity presented itself.

“As the game went along, I thought his best period was his third period,” head coach Luke Richardson said postgame. ” He looked confident on the offensive blue line, keeping pucks in and shooting it. It was a fast turnaround for him and first game in the NHL against a team that’s going to make the playoffs. It’s a big, strong team–it’s tough for a young D to come in, especially at this time of the year, let alone the beginning of the year.”

Blackhawks Future Could Be Very Bright With Del Mastro on the Blue Line

When looking at the blue line, however, it’s fascinating to see the three younger players who were making up half of the six and all drafted by the Blackhawks in the past. Kevin Korchinski, the seventh overall pick of the 2022 draft, Alex Vlasic–a second-round pick in the 2019 draft and Del Mastro, a fourth rounder out of the 2021 draft.

That’s a hell of a haul for half of the defensive pairing. Imagine if it sticks for seasons to come. For Del Mastro, he’s thrilled to have the opportunity in Chicago, even with a loss in his first NHL game.

“Yeah, obviously, it’s pretty unreal,” Del Mastro said.  “You work your whole life to try to accomplish this and to have my family in the building, people that kind of helped me through this whole kind of journey, it’s pretty awesome. And then the history of the Blackhawks it’s just an awesome experience.”

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