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May 23, 2024

Blackhawks Phenom Connor Bedard Exits Game After Taking Huge Hit vs. Devils

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Jan 6, 2024

Chicago Blackhawks rookie sensation Connor Bedard was forced to exit Friday’s game against the New Jersey Devils after absorbing a huge hit from Devils defenseman Brendan Smith. The loss of Bedard seemed to take the wind out of the Blackhawks’ sails as they went on to fall 4-2 to New Jersey.

Bedard Injured After Massive Open-Ice Collision

Early in the second period with the game tied 1-1, Smith caught Bedard with a high hit in the neutral zone that sent the 18-year-old phenom flying. Bedard stayed down on the ice for several minutes before slowly making his way to the Chicago locker room. He did not return to the game.

The Blackhawks were incensed by the hit on their young star. Captain Jonathan Toews called it “a dirty, targeted hit” while head coach Luke Richardson said the team was “not thrilled” with Smith’s actions. The NHL Department of Player Safety will almost certainly review the play for possible supplemental discipline.

Blackhawks Rally Around Injured Rookie

Seeing their teen teammate writhing in pain on the ice clearly motivated the Blackhawks. Chicago’s Max Domi immediately fought Smith after the hit in retaliation. Later in the period, Nick Foligno squared off with Devils pest Miles Wood as tensions continued to escalate.

The Blackhawks also seemed to feed off the energy from the United Center crowd of 21,000 who were vehemently booing Smith every time he touched the puck. After falling behind 2-1 early in the third period, Chicago’s Sam Lafferty buried a rebound past Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek to tie the game 2-2 and send the Madhouse on Madison into a frenzy.

Blackhawks Goals Scorer Time
1 Jonathan Toews 18:14 1st
2 Sam Lafferty 4:42 3rd

New Jersey Pulls Away Late for 4-2 Win

The Blackhawks’ emotional surge wouldn’t last. Still playing without Bedard, Chicago surrendered a pair of late third-period goals as New Jersey pulled away.

Jack Hughes netted his second goal of the night — a power-play snipe off a fantastic pass from Dougie Hamilton — to put the Devils back on top 3-2. Jesper Bratt then sealed the deal with an empty-netter in the final minute as New Jersey won its seventh straight game.

What This Loss Means for Chicago

The 4-2 defeat was the Blackhawks’ sixth straight on the road. At 10-27-4 and with an NHL-worst 24 points, Chicago remains comfortably at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

So while the outcome wasn’t a surprise, the injury to Bedard puts a damper on what has otherwise been an extremely positive season for the rebuilding Hawks. Prior to leaving Friday’s contest, the 2023 World Juniors MVP had recorded 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) through the first 30 games of his NHL career.

Bedard’s status is unclear at this point, but any extended absence would be a huge blow for both the player and the franchise. Chicago is counting on Bedard to be one of the centerpieces of its roster for years to come.

What’s Next for the Blackhawks and Devils

The Blackhawks continue their six-game road trip with a Sunday afternoon tilt in St. Louis against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues. The team is hopeful Bedard’s injury won’t keep him out long-term, but it’s likely Chicago will exercise caution with their prized rookie.

New Jersey, meanwhile, will put its seven-game winning streak on the line Saturday night when they host the Canucks. At 27-11-2, the Devils have surged to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings behind brilliant play from young stars Hughes and Bratt. With the NHL’s third-best record, it’s clear New Jersey has its sights set on making a deep playoff run this spring.

So while the Devils seem headed for success this season, the struggling Blackhawks once again find themselves looking to the future. The growth of budding stars like Bedard and Lukas Reichel is paramount for Chicago. But the Hawks know such rapid rebuilds come with bumps in the road, and losing Bedard for any period of time counts as a major pothole.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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