Blackhawks notes: Connor Bedard sets franchise record with 9 goals in first 13 games

Bedard is the first player in Hawks history to start his career with that much goal-scoring production. He’s also just the sixth NHL player to do so since 1994, joining an interesting group.

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Connor Bedard’s two goals Sunday gave him nine on the season.

Connor Bedard’s two goals Sunday gave him nine on the season.

AP Photo/Jim Rassol

SUNRISE, Fla. — Connor Bedard’s production during his first month in the NHL has put him among some elite historical company.

After scoring twice in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 loss to the Panthers on Sunday, the 18-year-old rookie phenom is now averaging a point per game, with 13 points (nine goals and four assists) in his first 13 NHL appearances.

Here are a few stats that provide context to his impressive start:

  • Bedard is the first player in Hawks history to score nine goals in his first 13 career games.
  • He’s the 46th player in NHL history to do so, but only the sixth since 1994. The other five relatively recent examples are Elias Pettersson, Alex Chiasson, Evgeni Malkin, Michel Ouellet and Kristian Huselius — a surprisingly mixed bag of stars and busts.
  • He’s the 10th NHL player since 2009 to score eight goals in an eight-game span at any point during his rookie season. Kirill Kaprizov was the most recent prior example, while ex-Hawk Dominik Kubalik was the second-most recent.
  • Bedard is the sixth Hawk to record 13 points over his first 13 career games, joining Patrick Kane (who tallied 16 points), Jonathan Toews (13 points), Denis Savard (15 points) and 1940s forwards Bill Mosienko (15 points) and Pete Horeck (16 points).
  • He’s the fourth NHL rookie in the last five seasons to do so — joining Lucas Raymond, Matt Boldy and Matthew Beniers (last year’s Calder Trophy winner) — and the 18th since 2000.
  • Edmonton’s Connor McDavid didn’t make the cut, as he tallied only 12 points in his first 13 games as a rookie in 2015-16.
  • Bedard is the first NHL rookie since Auston Matthews in 2016 to record 43 shots on goal in his first 13 games.

Gym run-in

Hawks coach Luke Richardson’s job doesn’t involve much physical exertion, but he finds that it helps him wake up if he works out before every game nonetheless. Given his physique and discipline — which helped him log 1,417 career appearances as a player — that makes sense.

So Richardson naturally hit the gym inside the Hawks’ beachfront Ft. Lauderdale hotel around 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, many hours before the Hawks’ team bus to Amerant Arena for their matinee against the Panthers.

But what he didn’t expect to see was Bedard sauntering into the gym shortly thereafter.

“He’s eager,” Richardson said. “He rolls in not too long after me. He’s in there stretching in bare feet, preparing his routine before the game. I think he’s driven.”

Bedard was equally surprised to find his coach already in the gym when he walked in.

“He was just drenched on the bike,” Bedard said. “He’s a horse on the Peloton.”

PK regression

The Hawks killed the entirety of a four-minute Panthers power play during the second period Sunday, which they received after Nick Foligno roughed up Dmitry Kulikov to avenge Kulikov hitting Bedard into the boards.

But the Panthers converted both of their other two power plays, becoming just the second team to score multiple power-play goals against the Hawks this season. The Hawks’ penalty kill, after an excellent start to the season, has now been dented in five consecutive games, and both Richardson and Nick Foligno were questioned about that downturn after the game.

There’s little reason for alarm, though. The Hawks remain 14th in the NHL with a 79.6% kill rate, and their advanced metrics are even better. They’re allowing the ninth-fewest shots against and eighth-fewest scoring chances against per minute on the kill.

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