Top Blackhawks prospect Lucas Reichel may not be a prospect anymore.
The 20-year-old forward finally broke through his NHL glass ceiling on Sunday, scoring three points in a display of confidence, talent and chemistry in the Hawks’ 4-3 overtime win against the Flames.
With his stellar performance on Friday against the Coyotes — which Hawks management deemed his best game in the organization to date — Reichel proved his worth of a permanent role in the Hawks’ top six this weekend.
And the Hawks are going to give it to him.
“Perhaps the idea of bringing him now [because] He’s earned a spot,” said coach Luke Richardson. “It’s not just a flash, coming on for a game or two. This is to give him extended time to see if he can maintain what he is doing now. We hope he will be here.
Statistically, Reichel had a goal and two assists – quadrupling his career NHL points total from one (in 13 games entering Sunday) to four – as well as a team-high five shots on goal and 16 minutes. Four high-danger scoring chances, 16 seconds of ice time.
But even beyond the numbers, every part of Rachel’s play reflected the kind of growth that befell the elite.
“It feels great,” said Rachel. “Even in the last game, there were too many chances, and it didn’t work out. But you have to work hard for it and keep going, and today it bounced my way.”
For his goal, he retrieved a loose puck along the boards, saved it from two volleys, made a nifty behind-the-back pass to Seth Jones, crashed the net and knocked in a rebound between his legs.
For his first assist, his high-knee skating stride carried him down the ice on a two-on-two rush, and he sold shooting chances convincingly—so much so that the Flames sent goaltender Jakob Markström to his goal. Pulled so hard to fall. — before making a perfect pass to give a tap-in to Philip Kurashev.
And for his second assist, he finally connected with Max Domi – with whom he had worked in harmony all night, to score the dramatic overtime winner – nearly creating several additional goals.
” He managed the puck; His decision-making was great,” Richardson said. “He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s a great defense out there, and he wasn’t afraid to go out there. And it was good to see.
,[He was] Not only hanging out with the puck offensively but separating people from the puck and causing mayhem. He really wants to make a big mark, and he has done so so far.
Reichel’s increased physical ability, defensive responsibility and eagerness to drive the net are all factors behind the Hawks’ sudden comfort – 12 months after his NHL debut – with keeping him around for good.
But perhaps the biggest factor is his maturity. Rockford coach Anders Sorensen worked closely with Reichel this fall, often reminding him that as long as he’s been smart and consistent during each of those innings, ‘playing 10 innings in a row where nothing happens’ Totally fine.
Ask Rachel about that topic, and it becomes clear she’s listening. It is also clear why he needed to hear this.
,[Sorensen] Always say, ‘Sometimes it’s good to shift 50-50,'” Reichel said. “I’m always trying to do something good. Sometimes it works and it’s so sick, but sometimes it doesn’t work and it’s turnover and I go to play [in the] ‘D’-Zone.
On Sunday, was working cool things and was pretty sick. More exciting was his single-game highlight reel that spanned several weeks of Hawks hockey this season.
However, in the coming weeks, the Hawks will love to see Reichel continue to display all of her improvement, as much as they will enjoy seeing her rack up points.
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