Alex DeBrincat has been snake-bitten all season long. The scoring chances have been there, but the goal production has not and it’s been weighing on the 22-year-old winger.
But on Friday, DeBrincat reminded the city of Chicago why the Blackhawks signed him to a three-year, $19.2 million extension in October.
DeBrincat turned in one of his best performances of the season by leading the team in shot attempts (10), shots on goal (8), slot shots (6) and scoring chances generated off the rush (3), according to Sportlogiq. Most importantly, he had his first multi-goal game of the season, which included the overtime winner to give the Blackhawks their second win in nine games and first victory at home since Jan. 19.
"I feel like I’ve had a lot [of pucks] hit the post and gotten a lot of chances lately and they went in tonight," DeBrincat said following a 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators. "It’s nice.”
DeBrincat is and always has been a streaky goal scorer, but this has easily been the most challenging season of his young NHL career. It’s the first time he’s faced real adversity at the professional level, going through 12- and eight-game goalless droughts earlier in the season.
In his rookie season, DeBrincat (29) edged out Patrick Kane (27) for the team lead in goals. He followed that up with a 41-goal campaign, which only 11 players accomplished last season.
Despite scoring only 14 goals through his first 60 games this season, DeBrincat has tried to maintain a positive attitude. But it’s certainly been difficult.
"I’m trying to stay even as possible," DeBrincat said. "I think getting down on yourself isn’t really going to help anything. For me, I’ve just been trying to keep working on it. Obviously, you get frustrated at times but try to stay as positive as possible."
While time is running out for the Blackhawks to make a playoff push, it’s still encouraging to see DeBrincat break out of his scoring slump because he’s the kind of player who lives and breathes hockey away from the rink. And the last thing the Blackhawks want or need is to have DeBrincat carry a negative feeling with him into the summer and overthink what may have gone wrong.
Perhaps Friday's game could open up the floodgates for DeBrincat, whose shooting percentage of 9.0 this season is well short of his 14.7 percent career average.
"I feel like we've been getting some chances the past three or four games and he's hit a couple posts and had some good looks," Dylan Strome said. "Nice to see him capitalize on a few of those chances. ... It obviously just builds your confidence then he does that in overtime, so that's good."
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