WHAT’S AHEAD THIS WEEK
The Blackhawks play the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, NBCSCH), then have two home games over the weekend. They play the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second time this season, first time at United Center, on Friday (2 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, TSN4), and the St. Louis Blues on Sunday (2 p.m. ET; BSMW, NHLN, NBCSCH, SN, TVAS).
MOST INTRIGUING MATCHUP
Bedard vs. Fantilli
It’s two of the top players from the 2023 NHL Draft class going against each other when the Blackhawks play the Blue Jackets and forward Adam Fantilli, the No. 3 pick by Columbus. Like Bedard, Fantilli had an assist in his NHL debut, a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 12. His first career goal came in a 5-4 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 21. Fantilli has nine points (four goals, five assists) in 19 games for the Blue Jackets. Both teams are struggling this season, but this is a great chance to see two of the top three draft picks going head-to-head.
MOST ANTICIPATED GAME
Friday vs. Maple Leafs
Sure, another repeat opponent, which seems to be a common theme for the Blackhawks early this season. But it’s also the second time Bedard will play Auston Matthews, the Maple Leafs’ leading goal scorer and No. 1 pick in 2016. Neither had a point when the Blackhawks defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1 on Oct. 16, but it won’t be surprising if these two show some production in their second go-around. Matthews has 21 points (14 goals, seven assists) in 17 games this season. He has three hat tricks, including one in each of his first two games, a 6-5 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 11 and a 7-4 win against the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 14.
EDGE STAT OF THE WEEK
We know that the Blackhawks rely on Bedard a lot. His 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 16 games are 37.5 percent of the 40 goals they have scored this season. But the rookie is just chewing up the ice, according to EDGE Stats. He has skated 52.98 miles in 16 games. The NHL average is 32.46 for the season, putting him in the 91st percentile. It is similar for other total-distance metrics. He averages 10.13 miles per 60 minutes of ice time and the League average is 9.69 (90 percentile). He also skated 3.85 miles in his busiest game, more than a mile above the average of 2.84. For all EDGE stats, click here.
THEY SAID IT
“When you score four goals in two games (Nov. 9 and Nov. 12), teams are probably even more aware of him because he’s hot. You check him a little tighter. But he’s still young and feeling out the League, and there’s going to be ups and downs just like any player. I know he’s never happy. Even sometimes when he has two goals or four points in a game, he seems like he always wants more. That’s always a good sign where I don’t think he’ll ever settle and just sit back and let that flow of the game go. He’s always going to try and push for more.” -- Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson on Bedard being held in check recently