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Without Connor Bedard, Blackhawks look to end road woes vs. Kraken

Jan 22, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks forward Colin Blackwell (43) handles the puck against the Vancouver Canucks in the third period at Rogers Arena. Canucks won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle fans already got one glimpse of rookie sensation Connor Bedard this season, when the Kraken defeated the visiting Blackhawks 7-1 on Dec. 14.

But they won’t get a second on Wednesday night when Chicago comes back to town.

Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said Monday that Bedard is expected to be out at least another six weeks because of a fractured jaw suffered Jan. 5.

Bedard resumed skating last week but was unable to make it back for Monday night’s game in his hometown of Vancouver.

“He’s devastated not to be (in Vancouver) and playing, let alone just being here, but he’s on course on the recovery,” Richardson said. “It’s going to be probably at least six weeks. It’s bone settling.”

Bedard leads all NHL rookies with 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 39 games this season.

“Even though he’s wearing a bubble in practice, he can’t exert yet,” Richardson said. “He’s not supposed to clinch too hard and let the bones heal with the surgery they did, and even wearing the shield, that’s going to bang into your chin, so that’s only going to help when his bones are healed and that’s the timeline.”

Richardson said he isn’t worried about Bedard not being ready when he’s cleared to return.

“He’s going to do whatever he can to get back earlier, but that’s a doctor’s decision, and when they do scans and X-rays to make sure that the bone is healed, then that’ll be the time to ramp up the on-ice stuff to get him ready,” Richardson said. “He’s an eager guy. He’s going to do everything he can, so when he’s ready to come back, he’ll be ready to come back.”

The Blackhawks, who are 31st in the 32-team league with 30 points, are 3-5-0 since Bedard went down.

Chicago lost 2-0 on Monday at Vancouver, its 17th straight road defeat.

“Let’s be honest, our record on the road isn’t great, and I think sometimes we’re wading into games on the road,” Blackhawks forward Nick Foligno said. “Maybe I have a little bit better perspective watching a few games — and our tenacity and our compete and our readiness at home, it doesn’t seem to be (there on the road). It’s almost like we’re waiting to see what they’re going to do before we respond, and (Monday), we get caught in that.”

The streaky Kraken have lost four consecutive games since they had a franchise-record run of nine straight victories and points in 13 games in a row (11-0-2). That streak came on the heels of an eight-game winless stretch (0-6-2).

“We have four games until the (All-Star) break,” said Kraken forward Jordan Eberle, who scored the lone goal in a 3-1 defeat to visiting Toronto on Sunday. “You look at the standings — we’ve got to find a way to get them all. But it all starts with stopping the bleeding here and getting one.”

Seattle has played the past four games without injured No. 1 center Matty Beniers (upper body) and top defenseman Vince Dunn (undisclosed), with several other players battling an illness going through the team. In addition, forward Yanni Gourde will sit out Wednesday as he completes a two-game league suspension for a charging penalty that occurred last Thursday at Edmonton.

“I’m not going to use that as an excuse,” Kraken forward Oliver Bjorkstrand said. “We can still win games. When guys are hurt, you’ve got to find a way.”

–Field Level Media

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