ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Chicago Blackhawks routed the St. Louis Blues 5-0 at TRIA Rink in Minnesota on Saturday in Game 1 of the 2023 Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase.
Here are 10 observations from the win:
1. All eyes were on No. 1 overall selection Connor Bedard as he made his unofficial Blackhawks debut, and he put on a show by recording a hat trick in front of a sold-out Minnesota crowd that came to watch exactly that. He scored his first goal in the second period, and the last two in the third. He finished the game with an unofficial total of 11 shots.
"It doesn't mean too much, but it's nice to play games," Bedard said. "It was so much fun being with the guys, getting here, music is playing and you just have that mojo going in. That was the best part, getting back into it. It was real competitive so it's fun."
2. All three of Bedard's goals were impressive, but his second was a thing of beauty. His lethal shot and playmaking ability were on full display. Here's a look at all three of his goals:
3. Like Bedard, goaltender Drew Commesso made his unofficial team debut and he didn't disappoint, either. I'm not sure what the official shot total was, but nothing got past him. He didn't face too many high-quality chances, but a shutout is a shutout.
"I felt pretty good," Commesso said. "It was great just to get back on the ice in a game setting after a long time. First game in a few months. For me, it was just getting the pace back, seeing the puck and tracking it well and I feel I did a pretty good job tonight."
4. One of the best players on the ice was Blackhawks defenseman Wyatt Kaiser, who served as the team captain in his hometown of Minnesota. He's a steady all-around player, but was particularly aggressive offensively in this game, whether it was jumping up into the play or taking the puck hard to the net.
"It’s definitely picking my spots," Kaiser said. "I try to use my abilities and speed, I think, is one of them. If I can get kind of a jump on transition, I can go, I think I can attack the net a lot. I was definitely thinking about that this summer and trying to work on it."
5. Kevin Korchinski is best known as being a puck-moving offensive defenseman, but the Blackhawks played him in all situations in this game. He quarterbacked the top power-play unit and also saw some penalty kill action, as did Bedard. It didn't help that the Blackhawks committed three penalties in the first period.
6. I think Sam Savoie is still trying to find the balance between not crossing a line/taking unnecessary or inopportune penalties and staying true to who he is as a player, and that's by playing physical and getting under his opponents' skin. He restrained himself a little more as the game went on, but he took a penalty in the first period that wasn't ideal. I will say though, you'd rather have to try holding a player back than trying to instill something in him that's not already there.
7. Martin Misiak quietly had a solid game. He was robbed of a goal in the first period, and then set up Gavin Hayes beautifully with a wraparound pass in the second but got denied. I like his package.
8. The physicality didn't quite resemble Blackhawks-Blues from the rivalry days, but we saw glimpses of it on a lesser scale. Andrew Perrott dropped the gloves with Samuel Bitten. Blues prospect Zachary Dean made a dangerous hit on Hayes that led to a scrum. Colton Dach jawed with multiple Blues on separate occasions. Savoie laid a few big hits. It was a physical contest.
9. The Blues had only two skaters that measured in at above 6-foot-2. The Blackhawks had nine, four of which were defensemen. There was a noticeable size difference.
10. Sorensen didn't disclose whether or not Bedard would play on Sunday vs. Minnesota but I would be surprised if he did. There's no point in risking injury. Plus, the Blackhawks brought a few extra players on the trip, so it's likely they'll slide in and get a look.