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Hawk’s Bedard details injury, rehab process

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Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard, who suffered a broken jaw, played his first game in more than a month on Thursday.
Associated Press

While Connor Bedard’s return was a success Thursday, there were plenty of things we didn’t address from his nearly eight-minute postgame interview after the Blackhawks’ 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

So let’s hit on them here …

Q: What did he think about the hit by New Jersey’s Brendan Smith that broke his jaw?

A: It was a normal play. Just making an entry and the puck kind of bounced and went forward. I saw him, but I thought I’d finish the play and kick it out.

Wasn’t really a hard hit, it was clean. It just kind of got me in a spot where it happened to break my jaw. Maybe (should have bailed) out on the play, but in the moment, you just want to make the play. Unfortunate that was the result.

Q: Did he immediately know how bad it was?

A: It was just weird. My face was numb and stuff and my bite was off, which was kind of the only thing. … Right in the moment, I knew something was a little weird, but you never really know.

Q: How did you manage your diet?

A: I had my mom here, so I was pretty lucky that way. If not, it would have been tough. She was great. And Dee Dee (Saracco) is our meals person. She was awesome.

I got a lot of help from everyone with that — smoothies and soup for a little bit. After a couple weeks I was able to eat more stuff, so it wasn’t too bad.

Q: Were you at all nervous about taking a hit?

A: I’m not going to go in there scared. If it happens — I don’t know, you just don’t think about it, really. I’m confident in myself and my abilities. You can’t be nervous going out there.

Be smart, for sure. I’m not a big guy. I’m smaller than pretty much everyone. Gotta have your head up and be ready. If a lot of these guys catch me, it’s not going to be good.”

Q: What did you think about your one-timer off the pass from Philipp Kurashev that was saved in the third period?

A: I can’t believe I missed that one pass from him. That was a sick dish. Nice save, I guess. But I’ve got to make a better shot.

Penguins’ praise

After a rough first period against Pittsburgh, Bedard registered a second-period assist, nearly set up another goal or two with his slick passing and rifled a sizzling one-timer that was somehow staved off by goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.

The performance reminded everyone — including the Penguins — why this kid is going to be such a special talent.

“He’s a fun guy to watch — (although) not so fun from where I sit when you’re the coach on the other bench,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “But from a pure hockey standpoint, a really exciting player, and he’s only going to get better. He’s dynamic. You can see it, the plays he makes. He sees (the ice) so well.”

Said Sidney Crosby, who scored 2 goals: “He’s a special player. There are times when it doesn’t look like he’s got a lot of room and he’s making something out of nothing. Yeah, he’s dangerous.”

Reichel in the doghouse

Lost amid the Bedard hoopla was the fact that Lukas Reichel was a healthy scratch for the third time in eight games Thursday. Unless something changes, Reichel will be scratched again Saturday when the Hawks host Ottawa.

Coach Luke Richardson wants to see more “competitiveness in practice” before inserting Reichel back into the lineup. Richardson liked what he saw Friday, saying Reichel “was really good in the 2-on-2 drill, fighting through checks.”

Reichel has just 10 points in 50 games. Last season, he needed just 19 games to hit that point total.

Asked if they’ve considered sending Reichel to Rockford, Richardson said: “We’ve been so banged up. I don’t think we could’ve really up until this point. Maybe that’s an option going forward, just to help someone get out of the rut.

(“But) sometimes it’s a little bit of a instant blow to someone’s confidence. Their personality feels like it’s taken a hit (and) they’re embarrassed a little bit that they didn’t succeed.

“But the reason of using that tool is to succeed. It has done well for him in the past, so it could be something we look at in the future.”

Slap shot

Forward Anthony Beauvillier practiced Friday and could return as early as Monday when the Hawks play at Carolina.

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