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Blackhawks' Lukas Reichel calls healthy scratch ‘a good wake-up call'

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Chicago Blackhawks forward Lukas Reichel was a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career on Sunday in a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild. The organization wants to see more from him and is hoping a reset is what he needs.

On Tuesday after the morning skate, Reichel said he was "a little shocked" by the decision at first but then understood why.

"It’s disappointing, but I know I’ve got to be better," Reichel said. "I don’t play my game right now, but it’s a good wake-up call. Now it’s just about playing good, playing my game again."

Reichel admitted it was beneficial for him to take a breather and watch the game from a different vantage point.

"I watched the last game on top in the press box, it’s actually a different game up there," Reichel said. "Looks so easy."

Reichel, 21, has only six points (two goals, four assists) in 22 games this season. His -17 rating ranks last on the team. It's not where anyone expected him to be as we approach the two-month mark of the season.

Overall, Reichel hasn't been too noticeable in games this season. It reached a head on this last road trip where the Blackhawks felt it was time for him to sit.

"The Detroit-Winnipeg games, he didn’t seem himself," Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said. "He started, not being frustrated, it’s almost like he was down on himself. He needed to take a step back.

"It’s not punishment to sit out. It’s just kind of an evaluation of yourself and we gave our opinion and he gave some really honest, fair opinions back and I think he’s ready to go."

The Blackhawks tried moving Reichel from center to wing earlier in the season to free him up a bit and lessen his responsibilities, but that doesn't seem to have worked in the way they intended. Reichel knows what he has to do to not just stay in the lineup but make an impact.

"Play the right way, play good defensively and make plays in the O-zone," Reichel said. "Just try to work hard, stay positive and make good things happen."

Reichel will return to the lineup on Tuesday against Nashville. He skated on the fourth line with Ryan Donato and MacKenzie Entwistle, which doesn't seem like the ideal place to get his swagger back but the Blackhawks want him to earn his way up.

"I think he knows if he can get his game going and get his skating going, he’ll get rewarded and move up when he has an opportunity," Richardson said. "He seemed determined. I asked him: 'I don’t want to just put your number on the board to be back in after one game, do you really want to go after it or do you need more time to visualize and recheck and reset? He said, ‘Oh no, I’m ready.' So he’s ready to go. 

"I said, ‘It might not be perfect. You might not get three goals tonight but let’s see some determination, some of that skating ability, and he seems determined to do that tonight."

When asked where his head is at, Reichel replied: "Get back to work. And play a good game."

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