The Panthers generated 31 scoring chances to the Blackhawks’ 11 in Sunday’s afternoon tilt. With almost any other player at top-line center on the losing side, those numbers likely result in a blowout loss.
But the Blackhawks have Connor Bedard, perhaps the only 18-year-old on the planet with the ability to drag his team back into games as he did in Chicago’s 4-3 loss in Florida. With two early goals, he kept his team in it single-handedly. His markers weren’t freebies, either:
He made veteran goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky look silly on multiple occasions, and Bedard’s performance caught the eye of Panthers head coach Paul Maurice, who admitted after the game how impressed he was:
“He’s got an unbelievable release, his ability to change angles… the goals that he scored against us were not great angle goals, but they’re still really good shots. He changes the angles so he’s hard to read. He’s going to score an awful lot of goals.”– Paul Maurice
Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson echoed a similar sentiment:
“He was good. He was our only guy really looking to attack and shoot, especially in the second period.”– Luke Richardson
And Bedard is just getting started.
Richardson mentioned that the first overall pick is “starting to find himself in this league,” and is continuing to improve on a nightly basis. If Bedard is just beginning to figure things out, keep the rest of the NHL in your prayers. Teammate Nick Foligno also mentioned the 18-year-old is still improving.
“You can see the game is starting to slow down for him, which is scary.”– Nick Foligno
Scary, indeed. Foligno continued to rave about Bedard after the game, calling him a “game-breaker,” mentioning that the team is very lucky to have him and that watching him play night after night is a lesson for the team to try to make a difference whenever they’re on the ice.
Bedard has said himself that he’s noticed significant improvement over the first few games of the season, as he’s become more physical forechecking and fighting for the puck. He has a desire to improve unlike many others, though, and will only continue to get better. As Bedard continues to progress each game, it’s clear the Blackhawks got their guy.