Blackhawks Getting Much-Needed Passion & Fire From Max Domi

The Chicago Blackhawks’ season may be a dud with their second-worst 7-13-4 record, but not all hope is lost. Some players have been quietly stepping up to the plate and providing meaningful performances, and one of them is forward Max Domi. When he signed a one-year, $3 million deal as a free agent this past summer, there was no telling how he would perform on a rebuilding team. Yet, he is having a terrific season thus far, and his impact on the Blackhawks has been significant.

Domi’s Offense Fuels the Blackhawks

When talking before the season, it was continually mentioned that the Blackhawks would have a hard time finding someone to match Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews’ offensive production with players like Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kubalik gone. However, Domi is now up there and threatening to be the team’s leading scorer. He has 9 goals, 10 assists, and 19 points in 24 games, and his 19 points are only one point behind Kane’s team-leading 20 points. He has six points in the last seven games, including two-multi point contests and five goals. He’s also having a career-best year in the faceoff dot with a 57.7 percent success rate, which is second-best on the team behind Toews.

Related: Chicago Blackhawks Sign Max Domi to 1-Year Contract

The other area that Domi has been successful in is the power play. The Blackhawks’ power play is ranked 11th-best in the NHL, with a 25.33 percent success rate. Six of the nine total goals he scored this season have been power-play goals, making over 66 percent of his offense coming from the man advantage, which has been a great surprise considering the team’s 21st-ranked power play last season. The Blackhawks don’t have much “proven” scoring besides Kane, Toews, and Domi, making special teams that much more critical to help them win games, so having Domi as an extra power play threat has been essential.

Max Domi Chicago Blackhawks
Max Domi, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Domi and Kane have played together all season, literally, as they have played together 92 percent of the time through 21 games, and they’ve had some good moments together. However, head coach Luke Richardson recently decided to split them up to reunite Kane and Toews on the first line, but that hasn’t stopped them from creating chances. For example, when the Blackhawks defeated the New York Rangers 5-2 on Dec. 3, they teamed up to each have a three-point night that stemmed from the power play. Kane is the straw that stirs the drink on offense, but it has been great to see Domi stepping up. His 17.6 shooting percentage is third-best on the team, his 51 shots on goal are second-best, and his two game-winning goals lead the club. This has definitely helped fuel offensive production, even when it is tough to come by.

Domi Is the Blackhawks’ Sparkplug

When the Blackhawks traded Brandon Hagel to the Tampa Bay Lightning last year, they missed the motor that he brought to the table, but Domi is doing a very good job at filling the void. When you have a struggling team that doesn’t have a lot of talent, you have to make yourself hard to play against, and he has played the role of the pest well. He is tied with Andreas Athanasiou for most takeaways on the team with 20, proving his defensive persistence. He also sticks up for his teammates, which the locker room has favorably received.

Richardson expounded on that element of his game in October when the Blackhawks were facing the Detroit Red Wings. Domi went after Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen after he disagreed with a hooking penalty call in the first period. “That’s just Max. He takes things in his own hands. He’s a physical guy, an emotional guy, and he kind of went after him and gave our bench a little bit of a lift there.” As a result, the Hawks won that game 4-3. Moreover, let’s not forget when he went after Buffalo Sabres forward Tyson Jost after he hit Kane, which Kane appreciated, even though he tried to hold Domi back to prevent him from taking a penalty.

Domi has done a nice job facilitating a good locker room culture by ensuring that his teammates are taken care of. Of course, the “sparkplugs” are necessary on every team, and the Blackhawks know they have one in Domi. It can be hard to pump up a team during the game when things are constantly not going your way, like in Chicago’s case, but at least they know where to look for the extra energy boost when needed.

Domi has provided a lot of intangibles to the Blackhawks in the first two months of the season. He is producing on offense, which the team needs, but he also provides a grit element that was missing for a bit. He’s turned out to be everything the team hoped he would be when they signed him. He has dealt with consistency issues over the past two years, but he’s seemingly finding his groove again. Richardson was the assistant coach of the Montreal Canadiens during Domi’s career-best years, and it is evident he is getting the best out of him.

Related: Oilers Need to Target the Blackhawks’ Max Domi

Last season, when Domi was with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he had 32 points in 52 games before getting traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, and he is well on his way to surpassing that. The Blackhawks might ultimately choose to move him at the trade deadline in March, especially if his strong play holds up. But either way, it has been great to see Domi bring an extra punch to the Blackhawks’ lineup so far.

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