Lukas Reichel had an encouraging performance against the Flames before the All-Star break.
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After Blackhawks forward Lukas Reichel lost the puck while trying to cut down the center of the ice in his return to the lineup Jan. 25 against the Oilers, coach Luke Richardson told him to try going wide instead.
But two nights later against the Flames — the team Reichel has enjoyed the most success against in his career so far — he didn’t heed that advice. Instead, he cut down the center with more speed, confidence and elusiveness in a performance that looked reminiscent of his assertive 2022-23 form rather than his timid 2023-24 form.
The enigmatic Reichel, 21, was held without a point and had only one shot on goal in the Hawks’ 1-0 loss — extending his scoreless drought to 13 consecutive games entering the All-Star break — but he deserved several points.
‘‘He had some good skating moments, and when he stopped skating, that’s when he lost pucks,’’ Richardson said.
Reichel set up MacKenzie Entwistle for a great scoring chance and created several more himself, including a memorable rush in which he gathered the puck inside his defensive blue line, deked past Jonathan Huberdeau in the neutral zone, crossed the offensive blue line with speed and went around Dennis Gilbert before sending a backhand pass into the crease.
Richardson told him: ‘‘You can’t get frustrated. You’ve got to realize [that if] you have enough skill to create that chance, then you’ll create it again. You’ve got to be confident that you’re going to bury it the next time.’’
One impressive yet fruitless game doesn’t nearly make up for Reichel’s dozens of invisible games this season, but it represents a slightly encouraging sign. There haven’t even been many of those lately. That’s how he has wound up with a stat line of nine points in 47 games.
Reichel’s parents are visiting him in Chicago — for the first time this season — during the All-Star break, and he was excited about that beforehand. One only can hope that family time rejuvenates him for a strong finish in the Hawks’ 32 remaining games.
Reichel’s career isn’t exactly on the line, with the Hawks definitely planning to re-sign him as a restricted free agent this summer, no matter what. But it’s fair to describe this as a crucial stretch for his career. He desperately needs to start playing well and producing offensively again.
Perhaps taking a page out of the book of Jason Dickinson, one of few forwards on the Hawks who has produced at a solid clip, would help. They’re seven years apart in age and have different skills, but scoring is scoring.
As it turns out, Reichel had the same idea. He watched Dickinson closely while sitting in the press box as a healthy scratch Jan. 22 and Jan. 24 in Vancouver and Seattle, respectively.
‘‘From up top, you see it,’’ Reichel said. ‘‘He’s not going to dangle someone, but he holds on to the puck, he’s strong with the puck, and that’s how he makes his plays. It works for him.
‘‘When [Patrick] Kane or someone — a good player — dangles someone, then you’re like, ‘Holy [bleep], he’s so good.’ But Dickinson doesn’t have to stickhandle, and it works for him. We all can do it because it’s just smart plays and hard work. That’s why we all, on the team, can look at him and put it in our game.’’
Reichel is right that everyone can — and ought to — implement some of those takeaways, but there’s no question he needs to do so most of all.