Connor Bedard learning not to do too much as Blackhawks’ preseason rolls on

Chicago
By Chicago 4 Min Read

Connor Bedard hates losing. He has made that clear since the first scrimmages of Blackhawks training camp. Sunday’s preseason loss stung even more. And he hasn’t even gotten to the regular season yet.

“[With] the pride we have playing for this team and this organization, it always hurts when you lose, and it’s no different whether it’s camp, preseason, whatever,” Bedard said.

That intense — and admirable — competitiveness has led to Bedard trying to do too much at times, something the Hawks’ coaching staff talked to him about Tuesday before a 4-2 preseason win over the Red Wings.

With patience, Bedard’s chances and points will come. That was the case Tuesday; he tallied two assists and eventually scored a power-play empty-netter for his first (unofficial) goal at the United Center. He added another seven shot attempts and a 61.5% scoring-chance ratio in 16:16 of ice time, although he did lose eight of 10 faceoffs.

But on any given shift, trying to make fancy moves on a one-on-three rush, for example, is not worth trying at the NHL level.

“[We’re] just showing him the times where someone is vulnerable to take on one-on-one,” coach Luke Richardson said. “Compared to trying to dangle someone with not a lot of speed at the offensive blue line against three red jerseys and turning it over and getting frustrated.

“[We want him to] hold onto the puck, make a strong play, maybe lay it in for your teammate or yourself. Everything doesn’t have to be a highlight.”

Ryan Donato was a late scratch due to a groin injury, so Tyler Johnson moved up onto Bedard’s wing opposite Taylor Hall. Richardson said Donato will be “day-to-day at the most.”

Kurashev could miss games

Philipp Kurashev will miss at least another week past Tuesday due to his wrist injury, putting his availability for the Hawks’ first few regular-season games in doubt.

“He’s going to start skating, which is good,” Richardson said. “And then hopefully at some point, when the season starts, [we’ll] add him to the team practice.”

Katchouk feeling confident

The injuries to Kurashev and Colin Blackwell might open an extra spot or two in the Hawks’ opening-day forward roster, but it remains inevitable that at least one or two guys from the bubble group — Boris Katchouk, MacKenzie Entwistle, Reese Johnson and Joey Anderson — will be placed on waivers.

All four guys have expressed belief they’ll be one of those who make the team, but Katchouk on Tuesday sounded arguably the most assertive out of the group.

“Nobody else is going to take it away from me,” Katchouk said. “I have it in my own hands, control over my own destiny. I’m going to show each game that I’m put in that I’m a player to stick around here.”

The 25-year-old winger endured “a lot of struggles” last season, but he finally found his groove over the season’s final month, tallying 10 points in 18 games while also forechecking effectively.

He has carried over the confidence he built then into this season, and the difference in his personality has truly been noticeable.

“I’ve always had adversity, and I’ve always battled back and played better as a result,” he said. “I’m here to…show what I’m capable of and make a statement to this team that I belong in this league.”

Katchouk and Entwistle both had several glorious scoring chances Tuesday that they failed to convert, but Richardson said he was glad to see them simply creating that much.

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