The Chicago Blackhawks can only hope Monday’s scrimmage at Fifth Third Arena portends the future.
MacKenzie Entwistle scored the game’s first goal.
“We had like five shifts and he had two goals and could’ve had two assists,” he said. “It’s pretty special to watch him.
“Even when he’s not as noticeable, he’s still getting a touch or making a play. The best players in the league, sometimes you didn’t notice them and they’ve got three assists. Connor does both — he’s making those crazy goals and he’s also finding ways to be productive in other ways.”
Moments before scoring the game-winner, Bedard turned the puck over in the defensive zone on a bad pass. But his team quickly got the puck back and broke out, and Donato served up a one-timer and Bedard ripped it past Stauber.
“That was a terrible play at the start there,” Bedard said with a sheepish smile. “I don’t know what I was doing but obviously that’s hockey, I guess. You make mistakes and sometimes things go your way. … But it was nice to make it up at the end of the shift.”
Bedard said he wasn’t trying to test his limits at the NHL level — “I don’t think I could get away with that in pee-wee hockey.”
“I tried to sauce it, missed it, it happens,” he said. “Not a smart play so you’re going to do that sometimes. You learn from it.”
Bedard, meanwhile, was learning a lot from watching Reichel on the other side.
“He looked really good,” Bedard said. “Obviously a couple of really nice goals, so it was fun for me to get to watch him and obviously for the fans as well.”
They haven’t skated together much in camp, but he said Reichel strikes him as a hard worker who loves the game.
“I know everyone in the room knows he’s going to be a huge contributor this year,” Bedard said.
On his second goal, the Red team left Reichel undefended as Paul Ludwinski and Reese Johnson scrambled to set up in front of him, but Reichel weaved between them and snapped the puck past Drew Commesso.
Jason Dickinson said, “I see Reichy out there, he’s dancing around.”
Reichel didn’t put too much stock in his performance.
“I mean it’s a scrimmage,” Reichel said. “System-wise it’s not like everything is perfect. We’ve still got to work on so many things. But, yeah, felt good today.”
For the most part coach Luke Richardson saw what he wanted to see from training camp’s first scrimmage.
“Connor had the one, I would say, funny hiccup in his D-zone there, but he got the puck back and put it in the other net,” Richardson said. “It was great. I thought those guys finished plays.
“Taylor (Hall) and Nick (Foligno) had a couple of good chances at the net. I thought it was a good start and looking forward to seeing more of it.”
Richardson said he’s going to scrimmage with fewer people Tuesday.
“It was just a little too many people and not enough people got enough reps to really utilize a scrimmage,” he said. “Breaking it up into three teams and trying to do that over the next day and maybe one more time during camp.”
Here are three other things we learned Monday.
1. There’s more to Lukas Reichel’s growth than offense.
He looked confident in all zones, which Richardson attributed to “quicker decision-making.”
“I think he knows his responsibilities defensively,” he said. “He has to play just as hard defensively as offensively. He was battling today in the D-zone and we stopped one with his group and we talked it over a little bit and he was much better in the second rep.
“He’s really taking this chance (to play center) to heart and making the most of it.”
Those center duties include faceoffs, and Reichel has been digging into videos to study other players.
Reichel said his father, Martin, was good too.
“But it’s different in Germany,” he said. “You can use your skate or something.”
2. There’s a learning curve to Richardson’s defense.
Seth Jones recalled a saying among defensemen he heard when he was 18: “We don’t want our D holding it for a long time going D-to-D. We were just saying, ‘D-to-D-to-D-to-D — out of the playoffs.’”
The gist: Get the puck up to your forwards quickly.
But for the Hawks, defense isn’t always so simple.
“Oh yeah, last year I had all kinds of questions,” prospect Wyatt Kaiser said. “I went from playing mostly a man-on-man style all my life, so there’s a lot of switches (with the Hawks). Forwards roll up the wall, so … am I close enough to this guy where I can maybe strike down and continue to stay with him? Or you roll back, and now when I roll back, where am I going?”
Richardson said he’s been getting a lot of defensive questions, and he’s dedicated a lot of time to the D early in camp.
“This is the time of year to have great questions. Not two months from now,” he said.
Jason Dickinson has been with the Hawks for about a year now, so he can relate to newcomers’ uncertainty.
“The D-zone (scheme) was a change on the fly last year, so I think for some of the guys that are used to a man coverage or a strict zone, it’s a little bit of a hybrid in that you’ve got to go man for a little bit and then you’ve got to find your zone,” he said. “So it’s a little bit of an adjustment for some guys.”
3. Bedard took no mercy on Nick Foligno’s kids.
We learned over the summer that once Foligno’s three kids learned he would be playing with Bedard, they were instantly obsessed.
The Foligno family had Bedard over for dinner, “so they got it out of their system,” Foligno said. “I had to give him the riot act like, ‘Don’t act crazy, it’s just a person!’
“As soon as he walked in, they just handed him a mini-stick like, ‘Let’s go!’ Poor kid, he was down on his knees the whole day. But I think he loved it more than they did probably.
“It’s sad that I’m not even their favorite player anymore,” Foligno said Friday.
Bedard doubted he’s the favorite now, but enjoyed his time.
“Ever since I got here (Foligno has) been so good to me and all the young guys, and getting to go to his house for dinner and talking to him a lot makes you feel really comfortable with a guy like that, who’s been a captain, been in the league for so long and been so successful.”
Playing the gracious house guest is one thing. Playing games is another.
“I saw him talking about the mini-sticks,” Bedard said. “I went undefeated.”