The Chicago Blackhawks are playing some of their best of hockey of the season, sparked by rookie Alex DeBrincat
The hockey season is often full of highs and lows, and streaks and droughts. But within all of the games lie trends where conclusions can be made. This season the Chicago Blackhawks seem like they’re at one end of the spectrum or the other, but never in between. They can put up seven goals or leave you with none. But beyond the trends and numbers, Blackhawks fans are seeing one of their highly touted prospects develop at the highest level.
This season isn’t the first time the Blackhawks have gone through cold streaks. And it definitely won’t be the last. One player who was great at breaking those spells was Marian Hossa. He had the instincts to shake things up and attack the net different ways when pucks weren’t finding the twine. He would shoot from difficult angles, drive the net hard, or make extra space to create a good shot. That similar creative mind can be seen in a lot of Alex DeBrincat’s play recently.
Who’s Hot: Alex DeBrincat
In the last five games, DeBrincat has scored three goals and three assists. Four of those points came against the Anaheim Ducks when he scored his first NHL hat trick. DeBrincat is second on the team in goals with 10 only behind Artem Anisimov with 11. And nine of those goals have come at even strength playing on his line with Ryan Hartman and Patrick Sharp.
When the Blackhawks drafted DeBrincat, reports were that he has a nose for the puck, he finds soft areas, and is a sniper. Passed on by mostly every NHL team in the first round because of his size, DeBrincat lets his numbers speak for him and he’s certainly doing that this year.
DeBrincat seemed to go through the same nervousness that Nick Schmaltz went through when he got to the NHL. In a new environment where you’re playing with veterans, you want to fit in but also play well. But after several games, DeBrincat has shown his ability to produce at the NHL level.
It will be interesting to see his game towards the end of the season if he gets any time in the top six. Playing with Patrick Kane could really boost his opportunities.
Who’s Not: Richard Panik
After collecting six points in the first four games, Richard Panik has cooled off a bit. Playing on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad has proved to be either lethal or silent. In his last five games, Panik has only produced one assist even though he does have 14 points on the year.
Panik seems to do well when he plays physical. He’s usually good for a few hits every game, but he hasn’t registered one the last four games even though he’s averaging around 15 minutes a night. His shot attempts are also down with just two in the last three games, unlike the first two games of the season when he had eight.
Panik had a great season last year producing 22 goals and 22 assists. Hopefully he can find the right gear and start becoming more consistent with his points.
The next week will be a challenge for the Blackhawks as they play a home-and-home series with the Dallas Stars followed by games versus the LA Kings and Washington Capitals. Hopefully DeBrincat can continue his hot streak and Richard Panik can get in on the party.