NEWS

Blackhawks blanked by Bruins

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Before the season began, few Blackhawks impressed more than Lukas Reichel.

During camp and the preseason, the young forward attacked with authority when the puck was on his stick, found open teammates with precise passes and scored plenty of goals.

Those eye-opening moments prompted Nick Foligno to declare: “There’s a lot of good pieces (in this room) that really can take a step. No one’s seen a full season of Lukas Reichel and I think he’s exceptional.”

That may turn out to be the case one day, but it’s been an exceptionally quiet start for Reichel thus far. The 21-year-old has yet to record a point in seven games, including the Hawks’ 3-0 loss to Boston Tuesday at the United Center.

Reichel spent most of last season in Rockford, but he did rack up 15 points (7G, 8A) in 23 games with the Hawks and never went more than three contests without a goal or an assist.

So needless to say, this drought has been surprising, although it must be noted that:

• Reichel is centering the second line, meaning he’s facing tough defensemen and forwards nearly every shift.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

• The Hawks have faced some of the most structurally sound squads in the league, meaning his time and space has been limited.

So how can Reichel get going? Foligno wants his teammate to be more selfish and show off those exceptional puck-handling skills.

“When he has the puck on his stick, we’re a lot better team,” Foligno said. “That’s just the youth in him right now that’s forcing (passes) a little too early. …

“You want to hold onto it. He’s so good when he’s slicing through the middle and he creates so many opportunities.

“(Also), if one goes in for him, you’ll start to see him relax. I’m sure we’ll see that once he gets that first one.”

Reichel got off to a slow start against Boston and saw just 3:05 of ice time in the first period. His blind, behind-the-back pass in the neutral zone resulted in a turnover and led to a quick chance for Boston midway through the first period.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

He looked better in the second period, snapping off a shot with 3:20 remaining that was soaked up goalie Jeremy Swayman.

Reichel ranks second on the team in shots on goal with 18, but he’s averaging a shade under 15 minutes of ice time — eighth among Hawks forwards.

Maybe it’s time to move him up to the top PP unit? Or put him on the wing with Bedard? Richardson said changes like that aren’t imminent, although he may experiment with both of those ideas during the upcoming road trip to Vegas and Arizona.

While not overly frustrated by the lack of production, Reichel did admit not cashing in on a few opportunities has been rough.

“It’s a long season. We have so many games still,” he said. “There’s a couple chances that I’ve had that usually I score (on) those, but didn’t go in. That’s the frustrating part. But I feel like my work ethic and everything is good, so I want to keep that up.

“The goals and points are coming.”

They didn’t come for anyone against the Bruins on Tuesday as Boston held the Hawks to 23 shots on goal. The Bruins extended a 1-0 lead with a pair of goals less than a minute apart early in the third period.

The Hawks (2-5-0) appeared to take a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Bedard with 6:44 remaining in the first period, but the play was ruled offsides after a Boston challenge. Andreas Athanasiou had entered the offensive zone before the puck completely crossed the blue line.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        



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