Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Does Alex DeBrincat Still Work on the Third Line?

By Samuel Boland
SOUTH BEND, IN - JANUARY 01: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck during the first period of the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic game against the Boston Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium on January 1, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - JANUARY 01: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck during the first period of the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic game against the Boston Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium on January 1, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Chicago Blackhawks
DENVER, COLORADO – DECEMBER 29: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks fires a shot against the Colorado Avalanche in the third period at the Pepsi Center on December 29, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The “keep DeBrincat on the third line” argument

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” became a saying for a reason.

In that red-hot 15 game stretch DeBrincat has put together, he’s skated on the third line with Kampf and Sikura for a lot of it. This line is starting to develop chemistry and has put together some of their strongest efforts over the last handful of games.

Here’s Julianna Nikac with a quick recap of their performance during the Blackhawks 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at the Winter Classic:

"“The third line of Alex DeBrincat, David Kampf, and Dylan Sikura has been great the last couple of games. In this game, they only allowed one scoring chance and didn’t allow a single high-danger scoring chance. The three forwards combined for six shots on goal, with DeBrincat collecting half of those shots.”"

Tuesday’s game was a good showing for them. Hockey teams are at their best when they can confidently roll four lines and, though it may be premature, Colliton might have finally found a third line he can play confidently.

Sure, DeBrincat might be more productive playing with Kane and Strome, but he’s having a darn good season without them. Playing with Kampf and Sikura not only gives the Cat more favorable matchups, but it also allows him more opportunities to develop his own game.

Rather than playing second fiddle to Patrick Kane, DeBrincat gets an opportunity to be the guy when skating on that third line. His presence could help to elevate both Kampf and Sikura’s play offensively (he’s had a noticeable impact on Sikura lately), but more importantly it could help to elevate the play of the entire Chicago Blackhawks.

The ‘Hawks have been top heavy all season. If this line third line can take another step into being a reliable unit on a nightly basis, this team’s hopes at making a playoff run (or at least being competitive) increase tremendously.

DeBrincat will be a top-six scorer for presumably the rest of his career. From this point on, he’ll only become more dangerous as he improves his awareness, defense and confidence at the NHL level.

That third line role this year could help to accelerate that.

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Five Thoughts on Blackhawks Loss to Bruins at Winter Classic. dark. Next

Additionally, DeBrincat is still averaging the fourth-highest forward minutes on the team and won’t be leaving the power play unit anytime soon, so his minutes aren’t bleeding too badly (yet, that is). So, if DeBrincat can make the Blackhawks better by providing some much needed bottom-six scoring, why stop him?

What do you think? Should DeBrincat be moved into the top-six or should he stay in this role? I’ll look forward to talking about it below.

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