Number-one overall draft pick Connor Bedard made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
He ended the night with one point on an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. The Hawks rebounded from a 2-0 deficit to win in regulation.
Bedard’s debut was much anticipated, and while he didn’t dazzle, he played well overall. But it was his teammates, such as goalie Petr Mrazek, who contributed the most to the win. Bedard was on the bench for three of the four goals.
That is not to suggest Bedard’s debut was underwhelming. Far from it. Based on this fan’s eye test, he seemed to be in the right place at the right time more often than not, and his shot looks tremendous. The pass he had for his assist was nifty. He did make a few mistakes — most of them of the rookie variety — and he struggled at the faceoff dot.
The experts on TV pointed out during breaks that Bedard’s positioning was generally good. He certainly didn’t hurt the Hawks — face-off failures excepted.
For those who hoped he’d dazzle in his debut, they didn’t get a multi-goal game. Nor, assist aside, did we really see some of Bedard’s magical moves — unless I missed something.
While not flashy, Connor Bedard proved that he belongs during his first game with the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
That is OK. Bedard is just 18, he’s jumping right from juniors to the NHL, and his first game came against a veteran Pittsburgh team that fell just short of the playoffs last year and believes it will be back in contention this year. His debut was more substance than flash, and that’s a good thing — he hopefully has a long career ahead of him.
I think many Blackhawks and NHL fans were hoping that he’d hit the ice and show why he’s been so hyped up immediately. Instead, we saw flashes of what he could do while also seeing him play a generally fundamentally sound game. That’s a bit boring, but it bodes well for Bedard and the Hawks.
The goals will come soon enough. For now, let’s be happy that Bedard simply looked like he belonged.