As the Blackhawks continue to succeed in 2019, so does Alex DeBrincat

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 18: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks advances the puck against the Ottawa Senators at the United Center on February 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Senators 8-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – A lot of things can change in just a month, especially direction.

On January 20th, when the Blackhawks beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals, it looked like a highlight of an otherwise rebuilding season. Little did they or the fans know that the team was on the verge of a charge for the postseason.

Having won nine of their last 11 games, Jeremy Colliton’s team faces Detroit Wednesday night with an opportunity that would have seemed unlikely a month ago: Moving into the final Western Conference playoff spot with 21 games to go.

Thanks to a loss by the Wild – the current holders of the second Wild Card spot – last night, a win over the Red Wings coupled with an Avalanche loss to the Jets would put the Blackhawks in that position.

“I think we believe we can get there, whether it’s this game or the next game or the very last game. The focus needs to continue to be on a high-level performance night in and night out,” said Colliton when asked about the possibility of the team taking the spot in the playoffs Wednesday night. “There’s more for us to give. If we feel like there’s improvement within our game.

“But the positive is we’re right there.”

A big reason for that, naturally, is Patrick Kane. His 18 game scoring and 17 game assist streaks have helped spark a Blackhawks offense that hasn’t been held to under two goals in their last eleven games. But someone else is quietly coming into his own in No. 88 shadow, though he certainly stepped out of it during Monday’s win over the Senators.

Alex DeBrincat recorded the fourth Hat Trick of his career and the first of the 2018-2019 season in a three-goal effort in an 8-7 triumph over Ottawa. It gave him his 32nd score of the season, and brings him to a total of 60 in his first two seasons with the Blackhawks.

But it’s his efforts over the last two months that standout, with the forward enjoying perhaps the best stretch of his young career. Since January 1st, DeBrincat has scored 14 goals and dished out 13 assists, and all of those helpers have come during the 9-2 stretch for the Blackhawks that has them back in the playoff discussion.

During those 11 games, the forward has scored eight goals, failing to get a point in only one of those contests. Yet seeing what Kane is doing, and recognizing his own ups-and-downs at times in his first two seasons, DeBrincat continues to seek out ways to improve his own consistency the final 22 games of the regular season.

“It’s a work in progress,” said DeBrincat. “Last year was pretty inconsistent, this year I’m working towards it. But you see guys like ‘Kaner’ – he has an 18-straight – that’s something you work towards and you want to be the best player on the ice every game.

“So I think there is always room to improve but it’s nice to get better.”

That’s a feeling shared around the Blackhawks’ locker room over the last month in which the team has turned around a season.

 

 

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