Connor Bedard giving Blackhawks much-needed jolt: ‘He's electric'

Connor Bedard giving Blackhawks much-needed jolt: ‘He's electric' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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Chicago Blackhawks rookie phenom Connor Bedard has been back for two games after missing nearly six week with a fractured jaw, and he hasn't skipped a beat. It took him one period to shake off the rust, and since then, he's been Chicago's best skater.

On Saturday afternoon, the Blackhawks ended an eight-game winless streak after beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 thanks to a 40-save performance by Petr Mrazek and two-point effort by Bedard, who had a goal and an assist. Bedard missed this feeling.

"It's great," Bedard said. "Especially getting back and being at home for a couple games and getting to kind of feel that energy and stuff. It's awesome. To get a win, it's been a long time for myself. I think we were on a five-game losing streak when I was playing and obviously it's hard watching and it's hard watching when we're losing, so it feels good for all of us to get that."

Bedard could've had a second goal and third point but his third-period tally that would've been the go-ahead goal was taken away because of an offside challenge. It's the second time he's had a goal wiped off the board at home this season.

Even though his line was on the ice for 17 scoring chances against at even strength, per Natural Stat Trick, the Blackhawks capitalized on the chances they did get when Bedard was on the ice. That wasn't the case when he was out of the lineup.

"He's just driven," Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said. "Loves to play, loves to score and help the team in that way. He's really mild-mannered in every other part of his lifestyle away from the rink — even at the rink — and he just lights up when he gets on that ice. ... He seems like he's really excited to be back."

Bedard's return has given the Blackhawks a major lift because of how effortless it is for him to generate scoring chances and put the puck in the net.

After all, this is a Blackhawks team that averaged only 1.43 goals-per-game in the 14 contests without Bedard. They were starving for offense.

"Guys feel confident," Richardson said. "They know we have another weapon that we can score on the power play. When he comes downhill, I just think it's going to go in every time."

Bedard's teammates feel the extra jump too. Crazy that an 18-year-old kid can do that, which shows the kind of respect the veterans have for him.

"I think it goes without saying," said Jason Dickinson, who scored his 17th goal of the season that stood as the game-winner with 1:52 left in regulation. "Everybody knows he’s a dynamic player, he’s electric with the puck. You give him opportunities he’s going to make something happen and it brings a lot more depth to the lineup, a lot more danger to that line. So teams have to think a little bit harder.

"Not too often does an 18-year-old come in and have this kind of an impact on a team. It’s very few players that have the opportunity to do something like that, and it’s even fewer that take that opportunity and run with it. He’s a special player, demands a lot of himself and it shows in his play. He’s going out there and making it happen."

Bedard seemed to respect the comments but humbly reversed the attention back to his teammates.

"It's nice," Bedard said. "I think we're all just trying to be ourselves and I get a lot of inspiration from everyone in this room and coming in as a young kid not really knowing anyone, I've been really comfortable the whole time. I think we can all speak volumes on each other but it's obviously nice to hear that and know that you're not the annoying little kid, you're maybe helping out a little bit. So it's good."

Bedard isn't too surprised that he's picked up where he left off. He's constantly on the ice — even during the offseason. It probably doesn't feel normal to him when he's actually not skating for an extended period of time.

It felt like he was gone forever, but Bedard is back and already giving the Chicago fans something to be excited about again.

"I've played the game for a long time and obviously it kind of takes a couple shifts, but I think I've been putting in a lot of work the last little bit here," Bedard said. "I don't know, I was expecting to kind of feel good coming back and the first few games have been nice, so gotta keep that going."

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