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NextImg:Blackhawks notes: Lukas Reichel’s NHL stint ending slightly early

SEATTLE — The Blackhawks’ game Saturday at the Kraken will end up being Lukas Reichel’s final NHL appearance of the season.

The Hawks had initially planned to keep their top young forward for their final three games of the season this coming week (against the Wild, Penguins and Flyers), but his AHL reassignment was moved up to bolster Rockford’s lineup as the AHL playoff race tightens, coach Luke Richardson said.

Young defenseman Alex Vlasic is also headed back to Rockford after Saturday’s game, and forward Joey Anderson will head down after Thursday’s NHL season finale.

Reichel will finish with 23 NHL appearances this season, including 19 since March 1, and 34 games in his career to date, meaning he technically won’t be a rookie next season (and won’t be eligible for the Calder Trophy).

But that matters little. His impressive progression this season matters far more. He has looked increasingly confident and decisive in recent weeks. On Thursday against the Canucks, he put on a show with his moves through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.

He has also been working on two areas that were previously weaknesses: his one-time shots and his ability to absorb hits.

“When I get stronger and bigger, it’s going to help me more,” Reichel said. “I don’t want to lose my skating ability, but it’s still improvement to get stronger. But it’s not [doable] in one summer. It takes a couple years.”

This extended NHL stint also allowed him to gain more road experience, learning to adjust to different rinks and to opponents line-matching against him, after playing almost entirely home games before this.

Raddysh finished

Forward Taylor Raddysh suffered a groin injury Thursday that will sideline him for 10 to 14 days, Richardson said Saturday. With just six days left, that means his season is over.

He finishes with 20 goals and 17 assists in 78 games — a relatively bright spot in the offense.

Toews’ minutes increasing

After playing 14:00 and 14:02 in each of his first two games, Jonathan Toews’ ice-time workload increased to 18:16 on Thursday in Vancouver — and he handled it without issue.

“It felt fine,” Toews said. “Sometimes you get into a rhythm of going out there a little bit more often and you don’t really feel a difference.”

With Raddysh out Saturday, Richardson shuffled the lines to put Anders Bjork with Reichel and Andreas Athanasiou. He moved Toews with Jason Dickinson, who shifted to wing, and Tyler Johnson, who played an NHL game in his home state of Washington for the first time (after missing both Seattle visits last season due to injury).