The Chicago Blackhawks call-ups have been making the most of their time in the NHL. Jakub Galvas and Lukas Reichel both were called up for different reasons. Galvas was called up out of necessity, as multiple defencemen were in COVID protocol and unavailable to play. Reichel’s callup was planned, as he was set to get NHL time no matter what this season. No matter the reason they are now donning the Blackhawks sweater, each has succeeded tremendously in their opening stints on NHL ice.
Lukas Reichel and Jakub Galvas Playing Well In Opening Games
Lukas Reichel Analysis
The first-round draft pick has spent most of his playing career in the German leagues. Once drafted 17th overall by Chicago, he made his way over to the Rockford Ice Hogs. In the 2021-22 season, he’s played 20 games with Rockford, scoring 11 goals and assisting on nine, combining for 20 points.
On Thursday, he made his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens. In that game, he played for nearly 16 minutes, with three shots on goal and zero points. He started 100% of his faceoffs in the offensive zone.
While this stat line doesn’t seem extremely impressive, 16 minutes of playtime in one’s first NHL game is nothing to scoff at. He made no egregious errors, which honestly is impressive considering the nerves he must have been experiencing. Obviously, head coach Derek King trusted him enough to put him on the first line between Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel. In addition, he spent some time on the second powerplay unit, along with Philipp Kurashev, Dominik Kubalik, Henrik Borgstrom, and Jakub Galvas.
Saturday night saw Reichel return to the lineup, once again on the first line between Kane and Hagel. Unfortunately, he did not register a point but did record two shots on net, 14:51 of ice time, and more time on the second powerplay unit.
Reichel seemed to have settled down in this game. He was much more poised with the puck on his stick and seemed more confident moving around in the offensive zone. He even had a scoring chance on a two-on-one but was denied by the stick of Lukas Dostal. In the defensive zone, Reichel was not a liability and was always near his assignment. On the powerplay, he was moving around frequently and constantly looking for passing lanes to teammates.
Lukas Reichel hasn’t done anything flashy on Blackhawks ice. Yet. He’s certainly capable of creating magic with the puck on his stick, but he seems tentative. On odd-man rushes or pushes into the offensive zone, he usually made the safe play by dumping it in or passing it backwards. However, there were a few times where there was an opening for him to drive to the net, or make a tighter pass to a cross-ice teammate. He is certainly capable of producing offence, but he needs to be more confident in his gameplay. This, however, will come with time and experience. King is giving him all the tools he needs to succeed, all Reichel has to do is prove he can score.
Jakub Galvas Analysis
Similar to Reichel, Jakub Galvas played overseas before being drafted in the fifth round in the 2017 draft. In 20 games with Rockford, he scored once and assisted on five goals, totalling six points.
In Galvas’ first NHL contest, he faced the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road. He played 24 shifts and had 23:40 minutes on the ice, along with two blocked shots and a shot on net.
The COVID list claimed multiple defencemen from the Blackhawks blue line, including top pairing Seth Jones and Jake McCabe. So, Galvas was called up to step in. And he did more than just adequately fill in the holes. He played close to seven minutes on the powerplay and spent nearly two minutes on the penalty kill. King said he was very surprised at how well Galvas played.
In Reichel’s first NHL game, Galvas was playing his second, facing the Canadiens at home. He played 25 shifts, totalling 19:50, still not registering a point, but having another great game defensively.
In his second NHL game, Galvas looked like he’d been out there for years. He was calm, physical, and intelligent with his plays. During corner battles, he smartly maneuvered around bigger opponents to steal the puck. In open ice, he stayed with opponents, forcing them to the outside and denying passing lanes. In this 3-2 overtime victory, Galvas earned himself another big-minute night.
In his latest game, Galvas played his best hockey. He had 16:56 of ice time, two shots on net, 0:34 of powerplay time, 1:32 of penalty kill time. However, his best play won’t show up on the scoresheet. In a netfront scramble, the puck ended up behind Marc-Andre Fleury, and Galvas was in the right position to sweep it away just before it fully crossed the goal line. This led to an odd-man rush the other way, leading to the Blackhawks’ first goal of the night.
Galvas was everywhere but the scoresheet on the ice on Saturday. He had an active stick, denying passing options and forcing opponents to take bad angle shots or not shoot at all. His one-on-one defensive play was immaculate, staying tight to the puck carrier and not giving them any space to work. In times when the Ducks were set up in their offensive zone, Galvas never lost his man and was always in the right place to assist his teammates if needed.
Effective on the powerplay and penalty kill, Galvas has been an incredibly important defenceman for the Blackhawks while waiting for their blueliners to return. His first few games in the league have been incredibly successful. While not an offensive powerhouse, Galvas is an incredibly solid defenceman. Unfortunately for Galvas, the Blackhawks have (debatably) 10 NHL-ready defencemen who can play at a moment’s notice. Galvas has likely forced King’s hand into keeping him in the starting six. With the level of play he’s at, it seems all but certain we will see more of Jakub Galvas in the near future.