The Chicago Blackhawks had a bit of a bounce-back week by winning two of their three games. All three contests were roller coasters as they looked great in the first two periods of Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars but had to thwart a third-period comeback attempt. Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Stars was a total clunker. On Saturday, they got off to a rough start at the Columbus Blue Jackets, falling behind 2-0 just 3:13 into the game but rebounded nicely to earn a 4-3 victory.
Picking the Star of Week was difficult as there were numerous candidates to consider. Vinnie Hinostroza had an assist in each of his first two games after being reacquired from the Florida Panthers. Dominik Kubalik had a pair of goals and was one of the only players to show up in the loss to Dallas. Kirby Dach scored his first goal of the season. Both Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat had three points, but the nod, once again, goes No. 12.
Showtime vs The Cat
It was great to see Kane start driving the offense and put up some points as his production has slipped a bit of late with just one goal in his previous nine games entering the week. Kane had a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s win, including six shots on goal. He was a non-factor in Thursday’s game with no points and just one shot on goal. He put up four shots and assisted on DeBrincat’s power-play goal in Columbus. He now has 15 helpers on the power play this season.
DeBrincat also put up three points with two goals and an assist. He didn’t have any points in the loss to the Stars, but he did get four shots on goal. Both he and Kane had 11 shots on goal over the three games, but DeBrincat’s output was more consistent. Kane had six shots on Tuesday and four on Saturday while being limited to just the one in the sandwich game. DeBrincat had three shots on Tuesday, followed by four on both Thursday and Saturday.
Cats Land on Their Feet
As has been discussed numerous times on various outlets, including our Blackhawks Banter, DeBrincat’s 2019-20 season was a major disappointment when it came to scoring goals. He had just 18 goals in 70 games after scoring a career-high 41 the previous season. His shooting percentage went from 18.6 in 2018-19 to just 8.7 the following season.
“All goalscorers go through droughts,” DeBrincat said last week of his struggles in 2019-20. “Obviously, last year was a little tougher. Like I said before, I think last year was good for me. I think it helped out my D-zone game a lot. I had to focus on other things to still be an effective player every night. A lot of it is luck. When the luck is not with you, you’re not going to put pucks in the net. This year the luck has been with me, and I got a few fluky ones.
“Obviously, you work on it over the summer. I spent a lot of time working on my shot. Overall, there are just certain situations where maybe this year it went in, and last year it didn’t. I think last year was a good year to have, and I have become a more complete player from it.”
DeBrincat’s shooting percentage has jumped back up to 17.6 this season and he has 21 goals in 38 games. If this were a normal 82-game regular season, he is on pace to score 45 goals. His resurgence is one of the biggest positives to come out this season, as he will be a key factor in the team’s success in the years to come.
New Faces for DeBrincat
Kane and DeBrincat have been on the same line together for much of the season and it is hard to argue with the results. However, after Thursday’s stinker, head coach Jeremy Colliton switched things up in Columbus. He put DeBrincat on the same line with Dylan Strome and Kirby Dach. The trio combined for the eventual game-winning goal late in the second period.
We have to give credit to Adam Boqvist for starting the play with a tremendous stretch pass even though he did not get an assist.
It will be interesting to see how long this line stays together. It is no secret that Strome plays his best and sees a boost in production when he is with his junior teammate, DeBrincat. The addition of Dach could be fun in the offensive zone, but this combination is not going to have a ton of success when they don’t have the puck.
They were matched up against the Blue Jackets top line for much of Saturday night in Mikhail Grigorenko, Jack Roslovic and Cam Atkinson. Both lines scored a goal for their respective teams, but Columbus benefitted far more when these players were on the ice. The Blue Jackets top line had a big advantage in shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances and high-danger scoring chances against the Blackhawks’ newest trio.
As we all know, lines change all the time and this one might not be made for the long run unless they can improve defensively. The bottom line is, no matter who DeBrincat has played with this season, he has produced. His return to being an elite goal scorer is one of the biggest positives to come out of this season, no matter how it ends.
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Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.