Thursday, February 29, 2024

Connor Bedard Progress Report: November Check-In


Although the Blackhawks are just a month and a half into a season of unknowns, the turn of the calendar to December feels like the “dog days” of the year for many Chicago fans. The team found itself at 3-6 at the end of October but had endured perhaps the toughest opening schedule in league history, facing off against teams like the Bruins and Golden Knights twice, and morale was high.

Throughout the month of November, it seemed as if reality had set in for the Blackhawks and their fan base. This was never a team that hoped to compete for a championship, but a healthy dose of “Bedard fever” masked an otherwise bleak season outlook. Chicago went 4-8 in November against a schedule that contained plenty of beatable opponents. The team hasn’t won back-to-back games yet this year and has the second-lowest points in the NHL.

As expected, one of Chicago’s biggest bright spots throughout the month was rookie phenom Connor Bedard. The 18-year-old had a roller-coaster November, complete with his first multi-point games and his name being thrown into the middle of an untrue scandal. Overall, though, Bedard is clearly getting better on a nightly basis.

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The statistical highlight of Bedard’s young career came during the two-game “Moms’ trip” to Florida where the youngster notched four and two points in back-to-back contests. With 11 points over the course of the month, Bedard now has 17 on the season. His time on the ice continues to remain impressive despite dropping a bit – from 19:45 per game in October to 19:03 in November. Bedard’s shooting percentage was an astronomical 20 percent throughout the month, which proves, if anything, that he just needs to get more pucks on the net.

Room for Improvement

While Bedard often finds himself as the best player on the ice, even at just 18 years old, there’s always room for him to get even better, and there’s little doubt that he’ll continue to do so. One of the biggest ways the team hopes he’ll improve is in getting more shots on the net. The more Bedard shoots, the better he’s able to use his tremendous skill set. Thankfully, it appeared in Thursday night’s game in Detroit that he was focusing on that aspect of his game, as he logged seven shots, more than his previous 2.55 per game.

The most notable hole in Bedard’s game from last month was his faceoff percentage of 37.7%, a perfectly reasonable number for a rookie. With a slightly stronger November, his career rate is up to almost 40%. A positive trend in that area was expected, but it’s still a great sign as Bedard continues to get better.

Bedard’s game clearly has room for improvement, but he’s been everything the Blackhawks could have asked for and more this season. Chicago was extra thankful for its “golden boy” in the month of Thanksgiving, as he was nearly a point-per-game skater and was effective on every inch of the ice. If Bedard continues to improve at his current rate, he’ll be the face of his team, his city, and even his sport for years to come.

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