Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Blackhawks’ Injury Bug Has Officially Gone Too Far

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The 2023-24 Blackhawks would have had a tough time piling up wins if they were fully healthy. It’s been a rebuilding year, and the squad didn’t have much talent to speak of. With the amount of players forced off the ice due to injury in recent weeks, though, the job has gotten even harder. Heading into Friday night’s game against the Devils, Chicago was without a long list of skaters including Joey Anderson, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Beauvillier, Taylor Hall, Tyler Johnson, Seth Jones, and Taylor Raddysh.

As the Blackhawks continue to lose about a player per game, as head coach Luke Richardson puts it, the lineup has become a makeshift AHL lineup of sorts. Players like Boris Katchouk and Brett Seney are receiving regular ice time as Chicago is practically out of players to turn to. The issue got so severe that GM Kyle Davidson stepped in and made a waiver claim before Thursday’s game against the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, acquiring LHD Jaycob Megna. On the bright side, Megna was the best player on the ice in his first game in a Blackhawks sweater, jumping right in and eating up minutes on the blue line.

While injuries have been a huge issue for the Blackhawks for almost the entire season, the injury bug officially went too far in the first period of Friday’s game. Bringing the puck into the zone to begin a power play, rookie superstar Connor Bedard took a nasty hit from the Devils’ Brendan Smith. The check immediately sent Bedard to the room holding his jaw, and he was eventually ruled out for the remainder of the game.

It isn’t clear how serious the 18-year-old’s injury is yet, but his importance to the team on a nightly basis can’t be overstated. The Blackhawks’ All-Star leads his squad in nearly every offensive metric, including goals, assists, points, and shots. The injury comes at a disappointing time, too, as he was just named to the All-Star game last night, the youngest in NHL history to receive the honor.

In the ensuing minutes, Friday night’s game got ugly quick. Insider Ben Pope said it best:

Nick Foligno helped the situation reach its climax when he dropped the gloves with Smith, and the two held a drawn-out fight that was one of the longest of the season. The crowd at the Prudential Center was buzzing, and Boris Katchouk even got in on the action when he scored a shorthanded goal, and then held a hand to his ear in celebration.

If Bedard is out for any extended period of time, that spells trouble for a Blackhawks team desperate for his nightly production. With Chicago starting more than a few AHL-caliber players, an increased defensive focus on those skaters certainly isn’t ideal. Plus, it’s no secret that Bedard is pretty much the only Blackhawks skater drawing any sort of ratings or ticket sales, so to lose their young star is a potential nightmare. Ideally, the Blackhawks decided to keep Bedard off the ice out of an abundance of caution, but we’ll all nervously await an official report and hope for good news.

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CassarahLark
CassarahLark
Jan 6, 2024 8:30 am

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Last edited 3 months ago by CassarahLark
CassarahLark
CassarahLark
Jan 6, 2024 8:28 am

If Bedard is out for any extended period of time, that spells trouble for a Blackhawks team desperate for his nightly production. With Chicago starting more than a few AHL-caliber players, an increased defensive focus on those skaters certainly isn’t ideal. Plus, it’s no secret that Bedard is pretty much the only Blackhawks skater drawing any sort of ratings or ticket sales, so to lose their young star is a potential nightmare. Ideally, the Blackhawks decided to keep Bedard off the ice out of an abundance of caution, but we’ll all nervously await an official report and hope for good… Read more »

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