Blackhawks notes: Lukas Reichel’s NHL stint ending slightly early

Reichel will head back to Rockford — a bit earlier than planned — after the Blackhawks’ game Saturday against the Kraken. Taylor Raddysh, meanwhile, will miss the season’s final week with a groin injury.

SHARE Blackhawks notes: Lukas Reichel’s NHL stint ending slightly early
Lukas Reichel looks at the puck.

Lukas Reichel will finish the season having made 23 NHL appearances.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

SEATTLE — The Blackhawks’ game Saturday against the Kraken was Lukas Reichel’s final NHL appearance of the season.

The Hawks planned to keep their top young forward for their last three games this week (against the Wild, Penguins and Flyers), but his AHL reassignment was moved up to bolster Rockford’s lineup as the AHL playoff race tightens, coach Luke Richardson said.

Young defenseman Alex Vlasic also was headed back to the IceHogs after the game, and forward Joey Anderson will head down after the Hawks’ season finale Thursday.

Reichel will finish with 23 NHL -appearances this season, including 19 since March 1, and 34 games in his career to date, meaning he technically won’t be a rookie next season (and won’t be eligible for the Calder Trophy).

But that matters little. His impressive progress this season is far more important. He has looked increasingly confident and decisive in recent weeks. On Thursday against the Canucks, he put on a show with his moves through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.

He also has been working on two areas that were weaknesses: his one-time shots and his ability to absorb hits.

“When I get stronger and bigger, it’s going to help me more,” Reichel said. “I don’t want to lose my skating ability, but it’s still improvement to get stronger. But it’s not [doable] in one summer. It takes a couple of years.”

This extended NHL stint also allowed him to gain more road experience, learning to adjust to different rinks and to opponents line-matching against him, after playing almost entirely home games before.

Raddysh finished

Forward Taylor Raddysh suffered a groin injury Thursday that will sideline him for 10 to 14 days, Richardson said Saturday. So, with only six days left, his season is over.

He finishes with 20 goals and 17 assists in 78 games — a relatively bright spot in the offense.

Toews’ minutes increasing

After playing 14:00 and 14:02 in his first two games, Jonathan Toews’ ice-time workload increased to 18:16 on Thursday in Vancouver — and he handled it without issue.

“It felt fine,” Toews said. “Sometimes you get into a rhythm of going out there a little bit more often, and you don’t really feel a difference.”

With Raddysh out against the Kraken, Richardson shuffled the lines to put Anders Bjork with Reichel and Andreas Athanasiou. He moved Toews with Jason Dickinson, who shifted to wing, and Tyler Johnson, who played an NHL game in his home state of Washington for the first time (after missing both Seattle visits last season because of injury).

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