With Seth Jones and Kevin Korchinski out of the lineup, head coach Luke Richardson challenged his young defensemen to see how they can handle a new type of responsibility out on the ice. After the game against the Edmonton Oilers, he praised his blueliners for their efforts with a last-minute change. 

One player that stuck out to him the most included Alex Vlasic as he acquired more minutes and handled his new role for the matchup and took on the 'next man up mentality.' 

“I thought overall for the young [defensemen] that we had playing last game, I thought we all played pretty well,” Vlasic said. “I think it's a good challenge for us too, I think it kind of, honestly, brings the team a little bit closer together.”

In his last five games, the Wilmette native added three points (1G, 2A) in his last five games to add to the team’s offensive side. But he noticed an improvement in his defensive game that created him the most success. 

After he went up against the league’s top players, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, he helped limit their chances and put heavy pressure to try and shut their line down. 

“I’m just trying to limit the amount of time that you give the top players on their team and use my body, use my size and my skating to kind of shut down some offensive chances,” Vlasic said. 

In the last few games, the team paired the young defenseman with his former Rockford IceHogs teammate, Louis Crevier. 

The two made chemistry last season together in Rockford where they learned how to use their bodies and stick-handling at the league level. Now, the 6-foot-6 defenseman noted that he and his 6-foot-8 teammate have brought that same chemistry to the Blackhawks lineup. 

“I think we had good success last year,” Vlasic said. “We had good chemistry and I think that's kind of translated pretty well honestly, these last couple of games we've been playing together, so it's been it's been a blast.” 

Not only have they been adding to the defensive side, but they also provided some offensive help with Crevier’s two assists in his five games. Instead of being a one-dimensional pairing, they try to put themselves outside of their comfort zones.  

“I think we've been doing a good job to kind of contributing a little bit offensively,” Vlasic said. “I don't want to limit our game to just the defensive zone, so it's, it's fun to push ourselves and kind of challenge that side of the game.”