After losing to the Winnipeg Jets yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks traveled to Minnesota for another matinee matchup. Today’s game featured some changes to Blackhawks’ lineup. There were two additions to lineup, as Cole Guttman returned from injury and Louis Crevier made his NHL debut after being recalled yesterday. The 6-foot-8 defenseman had skated well at Rockford and impressed the coaching staff, which led to his promotion following Wyatt Kaiser finally being assigned to the IceHogs.
With two additions, there had two subtractions from the lineup. Anthony Beauvillier made his Blackhawks debut on Saturday but does not have his work visa issued sorted out yet. He is rumored to be joining the Blackhawks on Tuesday or Wednesday in the States. The other subtraction was Lukas Reichel. Reichel was healthy scratched for the first time this season. Head Coach Luke Richardson said that “they need more from Reichel,” which is tough to dispute given Reichel’s largely invisible season thus far.
Here was the lineup:
Blackhawks lines in warmups vs. Wild:
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) December 3, 2023
In the first period, the Hawks continued their tradition of getting down early in the game. Marco Rossi scored his first goal of the period with just under two minutes gone by. The Hawks did muster an offensive push with their lone power play chance of the frame thanks to a couple of face-off wins and slick puck movement. Taylor Raddysh had several A+ chances that were turned aside by Marc-Andre Fleury.
Just past the midway point of the period, Rossi struck again with his second goal of the game. The Wild executed a beautiful passing play to get Rossi the puck in a primetime area for the goal.
Late in the period, Mats Zuccarello scored the third Wild goal of the period, as Kirill Kaprizov dished a perfect cross-ice pass to a wide-open Zuccarello for the tally.
After the first period, the Hawks trailed 3–0, and it could have been much worse.
Petr Mrazek faced two high-danger chances from Matthew Boldy and Kaprizov to start the period. The Hawks did get some offense generated with the fourth line of Guttman, Raddysh and Boris Katchouk. Katchouk has been very noticeable as of late for the Blackhawks.
Mrazek had to make another great glove save after a Kevin Korchinski turnover in his own zone. Boldy got his revenge against Mrazek as he cashed in a power play goal to make the score 4–0 Wild.
In the third period, the Hawks finally got on the score board, as Raddysh scored on the power play. He was assisted by Connor Bedard and Tyler Johnson. With the assist, Bedard extended his road point streak to nine games. This was the lone bright for the Hawks today as they fell 4–1 to the Wild.
The book is out on the Blackhawks. They get down early and are susceptible to the backdoor pass on defense. On offense, the lone threat to score is Bedard. That’s it. There is no one else that opposing teams need to fear on offense.
That is why the Blackhawks’ coaching staff sent a message to Reichel and all of their younger players with the healthy scratch. At this current stage of the rebuild, wins and losses are not critically important but development and production are crucial. Reichel had not been producing, so he was sat down for this game. After a stretch of play last year at the NHL level, the organization believed Reichel was ready for an NHL role. This season, Reichel was being counted on as budding offensive player. Instead, he had been invisible on the ice for long stretches of time.
Reichel was the third player to be delivered a message directly. Before the last game, Kaiser and Isaak Phillips were struggling mightily, so they were sent down. The coaching staff and front office have given these young players a long runway and now they are expecting results.
As for this game, it as a poorly executed excuse for a hockey game. The Hawks were outmatched and outclassed by the Wild for the vast majority of the 60 minutes.
The Hawks need to do some soul searching on how they want the rest of the season to go because poor play is going to hurt development and keep this rebuild stuck in neutral.
Chicago returns to action on Tuesday, hosting the Nashville Predators for a 7:30 p.m. CST puck drop.